Types of bloodshot eyes
There can be several reasons for bloodshot eyes, namely:
People with allergies often experience sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and burning sensations in their eyes. All of these are things that can easily irritate the eyes, and may cause bloodshot eyes.
Irritants like pollen, dust, perfume, smoke, and mould are usually responsible for aggravating our eyes and causing them to become bloodshot.²
- Dry eyes
Another common cause of bloodshot eyes is dryness. When eyes are deprived of natural moisture (both moisture from the air and moisture from the body’s hydration), eyes tend to tear up. This is because they are lacking in lubricant that our eyes need to see clearly.
Blood vessels and membranes in the eyes can stretch apart, resulting in mild or intense eye pain, redness, corneal ulcers, and in extreme cases, even loss of vision.³
- Eye infections
Eye infections result in the inflammation of the eyelash follicles and the membrane that protects the eye's surface, causing a sore bloodshot eye.
When an eye is infected, additional fluids are produced to protect the eye from foreign substances, such as dust. If you have a bloodshot eye on one side only, it’s more likely to be from an infection than from an allergy. The following are examples of common eye infections:
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
With conjunctivitis, an internal infection affects your eye's outer protective layer, causing the eyes to become inflamed. Your body then produces extra mucus to protect the film of the eye from external substances, such as bacteria, dust, mould, pollen and viruses.⁴,⁵
In this condition, your eyelids and eyelashes become inflamed as a result of poor eyelid and lash hygiene. The oil builds up in your glands and blocks your eyelid glands, causing your lids and lashes to become infested with bacteria. With the eyelid glands of your eyes blocked, you may experience a burning sensation in your eyes, itching, swollen eyelids, and a bloodshot eyeball.
In some cases, bloodshot eyes may need immediate care. Visit one of our optometrists for an eye examination.⁶,⁷
- Complications from surgery
If you have bloodshot eyes weeks after cataract surgery or laser eye surgery, that’s an indication that there may be complications from the surgery that need to be sorted out. Make an appointment with an optometrist as soon as possible.
Other forms of treatment include:
Oral medications relating to allergy treatments
Depending on the severity of your eye’s redness, your optometrist may refer you to an ophthalmologist. They may recommend antibiotics or eye creams instead of eye drops. If there is a more serious infection, such as blepharitis or pink eye (conjunctivitis), eye drops won’t be enough and you may need oral medication to ease the redness.
Whatever the case, never delay in getting your eyes checked. Catching the condition early provides much faster relief, and prevents the risk of long-term damage.⁹,¹⁰,¹¹
Prevention is better than cure
Of course, there is no better way to treat bloodshot eyes than by avoiding them in the first place. Here are some preventative measures that can protect your eye(s) from developing redness:¹²
- Wash your hands with antibacterial soap or sanitiser before touching your eyes
- Make sure to remove all eye makeup to prevent the clogging of your lid and lash glands
- Avoid wearing contact lenses for longer than the recommended time.
- Store your contact lenses in a clean case and clean your contacts thoroughly with contact lens solution before and after each use
- Wherever possible, avoid dust, mould, and other allergens.¹³
Medically reviewed by Jasmyn Cox on September 29, 2022