Eyes become bloodshot when blood vessels expand, making them easier to see than they usually would be. The most common causes of blood vessels in the eye expanding include excessive alcohol use and frequent smoking, but it can also be the result of direct contact with sunlight, chlorine, dust, smoke, dry air or solvents.
Other causes of bloodshot eyes include an infection, conjunctivitis, an injury, eye strain, a corneal ulcer, uveitis, an allergy, insufficient sleep or allergies such as hay fever. Over-wearing contact lenses is also a risk factor that many people with frequently bloodshot eyes recognise as the likely cause.
There is an important distinction between bloodshot eyes related to infection and a subconjunctival hemorrhage, which is when bleeding occurs beneath the surface of the eye.
Although it’s rare for bloodshot eyes to be an indication of anything serious, symptoms can include burning, dryness, blurred vision, swelling and a constant feeling of soreness around your eye, so it’s worth finding a suitable treatment.
How to soothe bloodshot eyes
If you’re experiencing a burning sensation, one simple way to try to ease your symptoms is to gently apply cold water. Do this by soaking a clean towel in cold water and resting it over your eyes for ten minutes. This may help to reduce irritation and itchiness.
If your bloodshot eyes aren’t burning, you could try a slightly different treatment, leaving a clean wet towel over your eyes but with warm water instead. By using warm water, you’ll be encouraging lubrication to your eyelids as well as increasing blood flow to your eyes.
If you think your contact lenses may be the cause of the problem, you could look at switching to different lenses, or perhaps reducing the amount of time you wear them for. This could help to prevent your condition from worsening and lower the chances of similar issues occurring in the future.
It would also be worth paying attention to your usual environment, as eyes are often irritated by smoke, humidity, wind and anything that could affect a pre-existing allergy. If any of these influences feature in your living or working environment, it could be the primary reason for your bloodshot eyes.
How do you get rid of bloodshot eyes?
When you’re choosing eye drops, you need to think about the symptoms you’re experiencing. Most of these treatments will work for almost any typical symptoms, but it’s likely that you’ll see a more effective response if you choose a product that is ideal for combating the specific symptoms you have.
In cases of bloodshot eyes when there is only mild irritation, the most suitable solution would be using cooling and soothing eye drops to reduce minor swelling and soreness. For circumstances where bloodshot eyes are sore and extremely irritated, it would be advisable to use irritated eye drops or irritated eye spray, depending on how you’d prefer to apply the remedy.
Eye drops are a tried and tested way of administering remedies for bloodshot eyes and other problems, but some people find it uncomfortable to apply this treatment. Eye sprays are a good alternative as they’re sprayed on the eyelid of the affected eye rather than the eye itself.
If you suspect that something in your eye is causing the issue, you could look at using eye wash, which includes an eye bath and also soothes the symptoms of allergies. This would work to rinse out your eye and clear any potential obstructions, and it would be far safer than attempting to clean your eye under a tap.
Before using any remedies such as eye drops, it would be advisable to consult a healthcare professional, as the phosphates in these products could make your condition worse, especially if you’ve already been diagnosed with an eye condition. It could also be harmful to use eye drops whilst utilising other eye preparations. If you’re considering using more than one treatment at a time, you should consult your eye care professional prior to use.
How long do bloodshot eyes last?
Due to the unpleasant appearance of bloodshot eyes and the discomfort they can cause, one of the main considerations is how long it will take for the symptoms to go. The duration of bloodshot eyes is mostly based on their severity and cause.
A subconjunctival haemorrhage typically only lasts for between seven and 10 days. This is the time period for gauging whether it’s actually something more severe. You should also get expert help if your eyes are painful even after using drops or sprays to soothe them, especially if you pass the 10-day period without any relief.