Red eye is a general term used to describe red, irritated and bloodshot eyes that can develop over time or appear suddenly, particularly in response to allergies or an eye injury. Red eyes can be accompanied by eye pain, itching, eye discharge, swollen eyes or visual disturbances such as blurry vision. In other cases, a red eye may cause no irritation at all. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should schedule an appointment with your eye doctor right away to see if one of these conditions is present.
The appearance of red eye ranges in severity from a bright red that completely covers the sclera to a few enlarged blood vessels that look like wiggly red or pink lines across the "white" of the eye.
Red eyes usually are caused by allergy, eye fatigue, over-wearing contact lenses or common eye infections such as pink eye (conjunctivitis). However, redness of the eye sometimes can signal a more serious eye condition or disease, such as uveitis or glaucoma.
In most cases, red, bloodshot eyes will clear up on their own. If you are experiencing red eyes due to allergies or environmental irritants, you can try using oral antihistamines or over-the-counter eye drops. If the redness persists, you should call your eye doctor and seek further medical attention.
Dry eyes usually become red eyes, and artificial tears (sold at any store) could be an easy fix to the problem. Rubbing your eyes will only make the situation worse, and can bring on additional symptoms.
Avoid touching your eyes altogether, even if you have washed your hands thoroughly. Oil and debris can stick to your fingers or get under your fingernails and cause more redness, and may even scratch your eyeball.
If you wear contact lenses, always remove them if you are experiencing bloodshot or irritated eyes.
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