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Alternative namesBloodshot eyes; Red eyes; Scleral injection; Conjunctival injection.
Red eyes are caused by enlarged, dilated blood vessels leading to the appearance of redness on the surface of the eye.
There are many possible causes of a red eye or eyes. Some are quite concerning, even medical emergencies. Others are of no consequence or concern at all. The degree of redness or appearance of blood usually does not correlate to how serious it is. It is generally more important whether you also have eye pain or impaired vision.
Bloodshot eyes appear red because the vessels in the surface of the white portion of the eye ( sclera ) become enlarged and irritated. This may result from extremely dry air, sun exposure, dust, foreign body, an allergic reaction, infection, trauma, or other conditions.
One common cause of a red eye is straining or coughing. This can lead to a bright red, uniformly dense bloody area on the sclera. This is called a subconjunctival hemorrhage . Although this bloody area may appear alarming, it is a fairly common occurrence and of little significance. If you notice a bloody blotch in one eye that doesn't hurt, but just looks bad, don't worry. It generally clears up on its own within a week or two.
Eye infections or inflammation can occur in different locations. They cause redness as well as possible itching, discharge, pain, or vision problems:
Other potential causes include:
For fatigue or eyestrain, try to rest your eyes. No treatment is necessary.
If you have conjunctivitis:
If you have blepharitis:
Call your health care provider if
Go to the hospital or call 911 if:
Call your doctor if:
Your doctor will take your medical history and perform a physical examination which will include a detailed eye exam.
To help diagnose the cause of the problem, your doctor will ask medical history questions, such as:
The eyes may need irrigation with normal saline solution, and any foreign bodies will need to be removed. Eye drops may be prescribed.
To prevent conjunctivitis:
Update Date: 11/12/2003Jacqueline A. Hart, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Boston, Ma, and Senior Medical Editor, A.D.A.M., Inc. Previously reviewed by Edward B. Feinberg, M.D., M.P.H., Department of Ophthalmology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (1/28/2002).
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT