MS - Ophthalmology, MBBS
While red bloodshot eyes may look worrisome at first sight, it is not a cause of concern all the time. There are benign, short-lasting bouts that will disappear on their own to serious medical reasons that could require intervention. Listed below are some common causes and ways to manage red eyes.
Conjunctivitis: The most common cause of red or pink eye is a conjunctivitis infection of the membrane covering the sclera. The blood vessels are irritated and give the eye a red hue. This is contagious and very common in children, needs to be treated with antibiotic drops based on the cause.
Allergy: Be it pollen, dust, dander, or some other chemicals, eyes could be sensitive to it and get inflamed and take on a red color. This can be treated with a combination of prevention by avoiding exposure to the allergen (which causes the allergy) and some antihistamine drops if required.
Contact lenses: Extended or improper use of contact lenses is the main reason for red eyes in contact lens users. There is reduced lubrication, increased accumulation of dust and microbes if the lens is not removed at frequent intervals. Removal of the lens and visits to the doctor are important things for managing it.
Computer Vision Syndrome: With people spending a large amount of time staring at computer screens, tablets and phone screens, the dryness in the eyes increase, thereby, leading to red eyes. The reduced blinking when working on computers also affects the condition. It is therefore very important to take conscious breaks to stare away from the monitors and use special glasses if required. In some cases, eye drops may also be required.
Occupational Hazard: For people working outdoors, conditions such as dust, heat, smoke, and dry air increase the chances of red eyes. Reducing exposure as much as possible and use of protective eyewear is extremely essential.
Dry Eye Syndrome: The tear glands are a constant source of lubrication for the eyes and also cleanse the eyes from the minute dust particles and other irritants. For various reasons, the tears produced may not be sufficient and can lead to red eyes. Artificial tear substitute could be used for managing this.
Some benign reasons like swimming, smoking, lack of sleep, pregnancy, common cold also produce bloodshot eyes. On the other hand, corneal ulcer, uveitis, ocular herpes, glaucoma, and other medical conditions could also lead to red eyes.
If it persists for more than 2 days, is painful, and is associated with discharge or sensitivity to light, it is important to seek medical help, especially if associated with injury or trauma.