Bloodshot eyes are usually a symptom of fatigue, irritation or infection. According to the National Institute of Health, "Bloodshot eyes appear red because the vessels in the surface of the white portion of the eye (sclera) become enlarged and irritated." Causes of bloodshot eyes include dryness, allergies, fatigue, strain, sun exposure, dust or foreign objects, infections and trauma. Figure out what is causing your bloodshot eyes, then treat your symptoms to decrease the redness.
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Rest your eyes. When you are reading or using a computer, stop and close your eyes for a few minutes every hour, placing your palms over your eyes and blocking out the light. Rhythmic eye rolling or focusing on an object far in the distance also relaxes your eyes. Resting helps decrease redness due to fatigue or subconjunctival haemorrhage caused by coughing or straining. Usually the redness will clear up after a week or two.
Treat conjunctivitis, commonly known as "pink eye," by applying a cool or warm cloth to the infected eye several times throughout the day. Avoid touching the infected eye and then touching the other eye to prevent spreading the infection to the healthy eye. Wash your hands often and see your doctor for antibiotic drops or ointment if necessary.
Blepharitis is an inflammation in the follicles of your eyelashes. Treat blepharitis by applying a warm compress to your eye for five minutes, twice daily. Mix warm water and a small amount of no-tears baby shampoo, then rub the mixture onto your eyelid at the lash line. Do this when you wake up and before you go to bed.
Wear protective glasses in situations that expose your eyes to harmful objects or fluids. If you do get debris in your eye, wash your hands and then try to flush the object out with clear water. Do not rub your eye because this may cause the debris to scratch the cornea. If flushing doesn't work and the object is on the white part of the eye, use a damp cotton swab to gently touch the object. It should cling to the cotton and be easily removed.
Always avoid alcohol, drugs and cigarette smoke. These things are a common cause of bloodshot eyes.
Change your diet. Foods rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamins E, C and D can promote healthy eyes, as can nutrients found in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and olive oil. Reduce foods with simple sugars, especially corn syrup; excessive sugars can move fluid from your eye into the lens and cause problems with your vision.
Use over-the-counter eye drops or one of the many holistic treatments available at health food stores.
Tips and warnings
- Do not use contact lenses or make-up if your eye is infected, and throw away any such items you have used on or near your infected eye so you don't spread the infection.
- Never share tweezers, other tools used near your eye or cosmetics as this may cause or spread infection.
- Always wash your hands and remove contact lenses before touching your eyes.
- If irritation persists, call your doctor.
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