Everyone’s had days when they look in the mirror and see irritated, red eyes looking back. Red eyes don’t just affect your appearance, however. There are other reasons you should deal with your red eyes.
Led by Dr. Jennifer Andrews, the caring team at Urban Eye Care in Seattle, Washington, understands the frustration red eyes can bring. That’s why we’ve put together this guide about why red eyes develop and what you can do about it. Read on to learn what you need to know.
Red eyes 101
Red eyes occur when the blood vessels of the eye dilate. As the blood vessels that cover the surface of your eyes expand, the whites of your eyes can look pink or red.
Almost everyone gets red eyes from time to time, but if your eyes are frequently red or you have chronic red eyes, it’s time to schedule an exam with Dr. Andrews for an evaluation. Chronic red eyes aren’t normal; they signal a problem that should be addressed.
Once Dr. Andrews understands the cause of your red eye, she recommends a customized treatment plan. Most of the time, red eyes don’t require medical intervention and can be treated with lubricating eye drops, antibiotics in the case of infection, and lifestyle changes.
Non-cosmetic reasons to address red eyes
While no one likes the way red eyes look, they can be a symptom of a more complicated issue with your eye health. Here are some common non-cosmetic reasons to address red eyes:
Eye infections, like conjunctivitis or “pink eye,” can make your eyes red. Left untreated, these infections can spread to other people or become recurring. Symptoms of eye infections include:
- Eyes are encrusted with or seeping yellow, brown, or green mucus
- Pain or tenderness in or around the eyes
- Unusual sensitivity to light
It’s safest to see Dr. Andrews for a professional evaluation if you experience any of these symptoms.
You can develop “allergy eye” even when you don’t have other allergy symptoms, like sneezing or nasal congestion. Many things can trigger allergy eye, including pollen, foods, and chemicals.
Red allergy eyes are often accompanied by an itchy, burning sensation. Dr. Andrews evaluates your eyes and discusses possible solutions, including medications and lifestyle changes.
Dry eye syndrome
You need tears to lubricate your eyes. When your eyes aren’t properly lubricated, they dry out.
This can happen if your eyes don’t make enough tears or your eyes produce low-quality tears. When eyes are dry, they can become red and irritated. Dr. Andrews evaluates your eyes and makes recommendations for remedying dry eyes.
Computer vision syndrome
All the time we spend staring at screens in our modern world can lead to eye strain. This causes a condition called computer vision syndrome, and one of its symptoms is red eyes.
Research shows that when people stare or look at screens, they blink 66% less frequently, creating a lack of moisture in the eyes. Dr. Andrews can recommend techniques to reduce computer vision syndrome.
Other non-cosmetic reasons
Red eyes can also result for many other reasons, including:
- Eye injury
- Alcohol use
- Lack of sleep
- Smoking or smoke exposure
- Illness (e.g., cold or flu)
- Contact lenses
- Dry air
- Chemical exposure (e.g., chlorine)
You can also develop red eyes after having eye surgery, such as LASIK or cataract surgery.