What's Really Causing Your Bloodshot Eyes

No one likes to look in the mirror and see a pair of bloodshot eyes staring back at them. Swollen or irritated blood vessels in your eyes can have a number of causes. While redness might be caused by something relatively harmless, that only requires a simple treatment, there may be other issues wreaking havoc on your eyes that need more immediate, and more serious, attention.

Bloodshot eyes appear when your eye is not getting enough oxygen. That's when blood vessels fill up with blood and become larger than normal (via Medical News Today). Inflamed blood vessels in the eyes are most often caused by some sort of irritant (via Healthline). Picture tiny particles of dust, smoke, and pollen causing your blood vessels to swell. Dry air, chlorinated water, or too much sun can also cause eye irritation. And if you've ever had a really bad cough, or lifted something a little too heavy, you may have experienced a burst blood vessel. It's unpleasant looking, but isn't usually serious.

It may be something more serious

One of the more concerning issues to be on the lookout for is an eye infection. Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye, is a viral or bacterial infection that is common among children (via WebMD). It can spread by touching your infected eye, and then touching a surface that someone else then has contact with. Washing your hands frequently and not touching your eyes if you have pink eye will help stop the spread.

If you suspect that your bloodshot eyes are being caused by environmental irritants, you may find some relief from rinsing your eyes with water or using eye drops (via Medical News Today). A warm compress may also help ease eye redness. Other types of eye infections can also cause redness, so it's best to check with a doctor if you suspect you might have one. If you have an eye injury, an expert opinion about what steps to take to help heal it is probably needed. Catching eye conditions early is the key to making sure the redness goes away quickly. Contacting your doctor to get an official diagnosis can save you discomfort and time, and may even help you avoid permanent injury and loss of sight.