Bloodshot Eyes: What to Do, When to Worry

New Year’s Eve partying may have resulted in some temporary red eyes on New Year’s Day (we hope you had a good one) but there are many and varied reasons why sometimes our eyes get red, or bloodshot. Many of these cases are caused by minor irritation and will go away on their own or with over-the-counter treatment. But sometimes, especially if it persists, bloodshot eyes may indicate a more serious condition that requires medical diagnosis and treatment.

Red eyes are called bloodshot because blood vessels in the white part (sclera) of the eyes have become swollen and visible as pink or red streaks. So, if your eye is red or bloodshot, what can you do at home, and when should you see your Atlantic Eye doctor?

The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests that the first step in treating inflamed eyes is to find out the source of irritation. Some common eye irritants include:

• pollen (hay fever)
• chlorine from swimming pools (more info at
• pets
• dust
• mold
• cigarette smoke
• perfumes
• dry air
• sun exposure

Other causes may include trauma or injury to the eyes, bleeding problems, overconsumption of alcohol, and overuse of contact lenses. Some red eyes may be caused by eye infections like conjunctivitis (pink eye), and conditions such as corneal ulcers, glaucoma, blepharitis, uveitis, and dry eyes. It’s also possible to break a blood vessel in the eye as a result of lifting something heavy, sneezing too forcefully, or rubbing your eyes too much or too hard.

Digital eye strain from extended screen time may be another cause of red, irritated eyes. And did you know that your eyes can actually get sunburned by UV rays? Remember to wear those sunglasses or goggles!

When to See a Doctor

You Should contact Atlantic Eye about your red eyes if:

• your eyes are seeping or encrusted with yellow, brown, or green mucus. This can be a sign of infection that needs urgent medical treatment.
• you are experiencing pain in or around your eyes or unusual tenderness.
• you have an unusual sensitivity to light.
• you have a fever or overall sickness.
• redness or discomfort lasts more than a week after you’ve tried home remedies.
• your child has been exposed to pink eye (conjunctivitis) at school or at camp.

Home Treatments

If your eyes are red without any of the above more serious symptoms, you can try:

• over-the-counter artificial tears.
• over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops to help relieve itchiness from allergies.
• decongestant eye drops to reduce the redness in your eyes (short-term use only).
• cool compresses or washcloths on closed eyes a couple of times a day.
• if mold causes your red eyes, clean the mold and consider a dehumidifier to absorb excess moisture.
• wash hands often. Do not touch your eyes unless you’ve just washed your hands.
• use clean bedding and towels daily especially if your eyes are infected.

We hope this gives you some insight into seeing red and when it may be something to worry about. Always contact Atlantic Eye with any eye-related concerns. Let’s make 2023 a year for clear vision and healthy eyes!