The eyes are a very sensitive part of the body and prone to redness, irritation, and injury. These irritations can be minor and go away on their own or become more serious if they are not treated and become very painful. Here is some information about what can cause the eyes to become red and some natural tips for soothing that redness away.
When eyes become overly dry, they often become reddish in color. This can be the result of a dry climate, such as the desert, or a dry interior space, such as an airplane or office building with low humidity. The eyes can also become dry after wearing contacts for an extended period of time or wearing contacts that are old or don’t allow good airflow. Dry eyes may also feel gritty, like they are burning, and be accompanied by heavy eyelids and an inability to cry.
Airborne allergens can cause eye redness, such as pollen, air pollution, and cigarette smoke. Also, fumes from gasoline, chemical exposure from a chlorinated swimming pool, and overexposure to sunlight without wearing sunglasses can cause redness. Eyes irritated by allergies are typically itchy, have a burning sensation, and tear up more than usual.
Broken Blood Vessels
You can break a small blood vessel beneath the eye’s surface by doing something as simple as sneezing too hard, heavy vomiting, or rubbing your eyes. People who take blood thinner medications are more prone to broken blood vessels of the eyes. This type of eye redness may look very discolored but is not usually painful.
Pinkeye is medically known as conjunctivitis and involves inflammation of the eyelid and the white portion of your eye. It is usually caused by bacteria or a virus and is especially common among children. In addition to redness, pinkeye symptoms include itching, burning, increased tears, light sensitivity, and crusty eyelids or eyelashes. Other types of bacterial or viral infections may have eye redness as a symptom as well.
Injury or Trauma
One more obvious cause of red eyes occurs with a head injury or a physical trauma to the eye area of the head. Injury-related eye redness may be accompanied by swelling of the eye area or a black eye due to bruising of the surrounding bones.
A stye is a bump on the eyelid that looks like a pimple and is tender and red. Eyelid styes are usually the result of an infection and due to a clogged oil gland. They can be swollen, cause pain, and make the eye more sensitive to light.
Natural Treatments for Red Eyes
The most common way that people treat red eyes is with store-bought eye drops that are marketed for redness relief. However, it’s best to understand why your eyes are red before picking up a bottle of these drops. They could make your eyes even more irritated depending on what the cause is or make you need to use eye drops more frequently to keep the redness away.
While your eyes are red, avoid wearing contacts or eye makeup so that you don’t further irritate them. Also, avoid touching your eyes with your hands, especially if you haven’t washed them lately.
It may help to place a warm compress over red eyes to increase blood circulation and help the eyes form tears to reduce dryness. A cold compress can help relax blood vessels if the eye appears bloodshot. You can also try putting cool, used tea bags on your eyes that have been refrigerated before use. Cucumbers have anti-inflammatory properties and can help shrink blood vessels in the eyes, while drinking more water will rehydrate the body if dryness is causing the redness or making it worse.