Relief from Red Eyes
Determining the reason is important if you want to find relief for red eyes. Is it simply exposure to a dry or windy environment, a foreign object, or is it a sign of something more sinister?
Eye redness occurs when the blood vessels on the eye’s surface expand or dilate.
It may be accompanied by other symptoms, such as:
- Teary, watery eyes;
- Crusty and flaky eyelashes;
- Swollen, puffy eyelids;
- Sticky discharge from the eyes;
- Itching or burning sensation in the eyes;
- Reduced or blurry vision;
- Increased sensitivity to light.
Whilst irritating and uncomfortable, it is usually short-lived.
However if you experience a severe headache or eye pain, a feeling of pressure in the eye, or notice a halo effect when looking at lights, make an appointment with a doctor or optometrist as soon as possible as these may indicate a more serious issue, such as glaucoma, and warrant more urgent attention.
The most common causes of sore, red eyes include:
- Irritation due to a foreign body in the eye, such as an eyelash or particles of dust or sand;
- Inflammation and allergic reaction to pollens, mold, pet dander etc;
- Exposure to dry air, humidity, wind or smoke;
- Viral or bacterial infection;
- Eye abrasion or scratch;
- Use of contact lenses and contact lens solution.
Treating Red Eyes
If you are seeking relief for red eyes, the type of treatment depends very much on the cause.
A foreign body in the eye can be removed by flushing eyes with water or a saline solution. Avoid rubbing your eyes to minimize scratches or abrasions; for persistent irritation, please see your family optometrist or eye care professional.
Dry Eye Syndrome may occur due to windy weather or smoke, but most commonly develops from prolonged exposure to screens (mobile phone, computer, TV). The use of a warm compress (soaking a face washer in warm water then wringing it out) over the eyes for 10 minutes helps to increase blood flow and oil production; you can also buy lubricating eye drops.
For persistent cases of Dry Eye, there are some exciting new treatments available such as IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) therapy, available at selected optometry practices.
Blepharitis is eyelid inflammation resulting in red eyes, flaking and crustiness. Take care of your eyelids by:
- Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water, before mixing warm water with a gentle cleanser such as baby shampoo.
- Dip a clean cloth or cotton bud in the warm cleanser and water mixture, then press against your closed eyelid for a few minutes to loosen crusts.
- Rinse your eye with clean water; then use a fresh cloth or cotton bud to clean the other eye.
Conjunctivitis is a highly contagious condition which can occur in one or both eyes; it is an inflammation of the ‘conjunctiva’ - the clear, thin membrane covering the front surface of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids. It may be caused by bacteria, a virus, or allergies. Bacterial conjunctivitis should be treated with a prescription antibiotic; viral and allergic conjunctivitis usually responds well to regular cool compresses, or soothing eye drops. Seek out medical advice to determine the type of conjunctivitis and the best method of treatment for your case.
Haemorrhage in the eye. This may occur after a minor bump, coughing or sneezing. If you experience high blood pressure and are on blood thinners, you are at increased risk. While it usually improves within two weeks with no treatment, please seek medical attention if it persists or is painful.
Determining the reason is important if you want to find relief for red eyes, so it pays to make your local GP or eye care professional your first port of call.