You went to sleep all hale and hearty but woke up with eyes that are red and stick together. Red eyes is much more alarming than it appears. It is usually caused due to swollen blood vessels. The blood vessels in the white part of the eyes are enlarged and irritated, causing the redness. It usually improves with time, but if not treated, it can lead to serious problems, even blindness.
Red Eye Causes:
So what causes this painful eye problem? There are several factors that can cause red eyes, some of them being:
Eye allergy, also known as ocular allergy, is one of the major causes of red eyes. Allergies cause red, itchy, burning and watery eyes. Eye allergies are caused due to a glitch in the immune system. The immune system, in an attempt to fight off the allergens, produces antibodies that cause the eyes to release histamine and other substances. This makes the eyes red, itchy and watery.
Red, itchy and puffy eyes can also be caused due to infections. Common eye infection includes:
- Conjunctivitis or pink eye: Conjunctivitis is an infection that produces red and irritated eyes. It is often caused by a virus and do not usually respond to antibiotics. In extreme conditions, conjunctivitis can also lead to itching and a discharge.
- Blepharitis: Blepharitis is another eye infection that produces red eyes. It is often accompanied by a crust forming over the eyelashes.
Some of the other common causes of red eyes are:
- Lack of sleep
- Overuse of contact lenses
- Excessive rubbing of the eyes
- Body’s natural release of histamine.
- Cold, hay fever and flu
Home Remedies for Red Eyes:
A red eye can sometimes be a more serious problem. If the red eyes are accompanied by discharge or cold symptoms, and then you should see the doctor before going for self-treatment. If your vision is not reduced and you are not experiencing pain, then you can try a few home remedies to cure red eyes.
Diet can have a significant impact on the health of the eyes. Eat a balanced diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A, B, C, E, iron and zinc, and zeaxanthin. A deficiency in B complex vitamins can lead to eye diseases including redness. Vitamin A is also required for better vision. Consume foods rich in carotenoids and lutein to prevent red eyes.
2. Cold Compress:
Red eyes are often accompanied by swelling, which can be easily treated at home. To reduce the swelling, apply an ice pack or cold compress once every hour. Cold compress helps to constrict the blood vessels in the eyes, reducing redness. You can also use ice cubes wrapped in a clean cloth. While using an ice pack, wrap it in a thin cloth to prevent ice burn. Cold compress will also reduce fluid retention around the eyes.
Sty is also one of the major causes of red eyes. You can treat a sty at home by placing a cloth washed in warm water on the closed eye. Repeat this process three to four times a day but only with warm water. The heat will unblock the pores in the eyelash area. Do not try to pop or squeeze the sty as it can spread the infection to the surrounding area.
4. Eye Drops:
Eye drops for red eyes are one of the best treatments for swollen, bloodshot or irritated eyes. Eye drops contain histamine, which control itching and swelling. Eye drops should be used 4 times a day. Its usage should not be overdrawn as that too can cause other eye problems.
Vasoconstrictors, also known as “get the red out” eye drops, causes the blood vessels to constrict, making them less noticeable. Vasoconstrictors, if used for a long time can create “redbound redness”. Excess usage may cause the blood vessels to dilate larger than before, causing red eyes.
Cucumbers are very effective for treating red and puffy eyes. Place a sliced cucumber over the eyelids to alleviate the redness. It works in the same manner as a cold compress. The cool surface area of the cucumber causes the blood vessels to constrict, reducing the appearance of red eyes. The anti-irritant properties of cucumber reduce inflammation, swelling and irritation of the eyes. For best results, freeze the cucumber for 10 to 15 minutes before applying on the eyelids. This will provide extra comfort. Soak cucumber slices in rose water and refrigerate for a while. Place it on the eyelids for 20 minutes. Cucumber will also help reduce dark circles under the eyes.
7. Rose Water:
Washing the eyes with rose water is one of the most preferred home remedies for red eye infection. Wash the eyes at least 2 to 3 times a day to give a cooling effect to the eyes. Alternatively, soak a cotton ball in rose water and place it in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Place the cool cotton ball on the closed eyes for instant relief. You can also put a few drops of rose water directly in the eyes.
8. Tea Bags:
The bioflavonoids present in black and green tea fight viral and bacterial infection, reducing inflammation. Tea bag is an effective treatment for treating red and puffy eyes. Take a used black tea bag and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Apply it over the eyes and relax for 20 minutes. The tannic acid present in these teas will also soothe the itching and swelling.
9. Drink More Water:
Dehydration can leech the water away from the eyes, causing redness and swelling. Drink sufficient amounts of water to retain moisture in the eyes. The remedy is beneficial for the general wellbeing of the body as well.
10. Milk and Honey:
The antibacterial and soothing properties of both milk and honey can help you to treat red eyes. Take equal quantities of both honey and warm milk and mix well until the paste acquires a smooth consistency. Take an eyedropper and drop 3 drops in the eyes several times a day. Milk can also help you to get rid of itchy and red eyes. Dab a cotton ball in milk and place it on the eyes.
11. Splash Water on the Eyes:
Splash the eyes with cold water as many times as possible. This remedy will also help to soothe itchy eyes and redness caused due to allergies.
Make a solution using 1 teaspoon of dried chamomile flower mixed in 1 cup of boiled water. Let it steep for a few minutes and leave it aside to cool. Strain the infusion and use it as an eye wash. Alternatively, add 12 drops of chamomile tincture to 1 cup of boiled water and use it to wash the eyes.
Goldenseal herb can also help you to get rid of red eyes. Mix 2 teaspoon of powdered goldenseal herb to one cup of boiled water and use it as a warm compress. You can use this infusion as an eye drop as well. Add two drops of this infusion two to three times a day to alleviate red eyes and its associated symptoms.
14. Chilled Spoon:
Take four metal spoons and place it in a glass of ice water. When the spoons are chilled, place one of them on each eye. As the spoons turns warm, switch them with the spoons chilling in the icy cool water. Continue doing this until the swelling subsides. The cool temperature will constrict the blood vessels, reducing redness and puffiness of the eyes.
15. Witch Hazel:
Witch hazel has been used since ancient times to cure eye inflammation. Soak a cotton ball in witch hazel and compress over closed eyes. The astringent properties of witch hazel help to reduce the swelling and itching.
16. Aloe Vera Juice:
Freeze the aloe vera juice and mix it with cold water. Soak a cotton pad and place it over the eyes. This will soothe the skin and prevent inflammation.
17. Castor Oil:
Castor oil is often used as an active ingredient in most of the commercially available eye drops. Wash a dropper thoroughly with soapy water and rinse well. Suck pure castor oil into the clean dropper. Add a drop of castor oil in each eye. Repeat this 4 times a day to soothe the eyes and reduce the redness.
18. Apple Cider Vinegar:
Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid, which helps to fight bacterial infections. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of water. Splash the eyes with the solution three times a day.
Grate a small potato and place it over the eyes. The astringent properties of potato will help to reduce the inflammation and dark circles around the eyes. Do this for three consecutive nights for optimum results.This is another effective home remedy for red itchy eyes.
20. Cold Bread:
This remedy may look a little out of place but it does work! Place cold bread on your eyelids to reduce inflammation, itchiness and redness.
21. Artificial Tear:
Dry eyes are one of the major causes of red eyes. Redness caused due to dry eyes is accompanied by itching, burning and gritty sensation. Our tears are the most effective eye cleansers. These natural antibacterial agents draw out the dust and allergens from the eyes. Artificial tears are easily available in the chemist’s shop. Add two drops of artificial tears two times a day to lubricate the eyes. You can also create your own saline solution by adding 1-teaspoon salt to one-liter water. Do not use artificial tear more than 3 to 4 times a day as it contains preservatives that can harm the eyes. If the irritation persists for more than two days, then seek professional advice.
Prevention, they say, is better than cure. And rightly so! If you can prevent something, why suffer needlessly? There are various ways to prevent the occurrence of red eyes. Some of them are:
- Limit your exposure to the source of allergy to relieve its symptoms. Stay indoors when the pollen count is high i.e. during mid-mornings and early evenings. Close all the windows and run the air conditioner. Do not use a fan as it can draw pollen into the house. Wear eyeglasses to prevent pollen grains from entering the eyes.
- Clean the floors with damp mop. Sweeping tends to stir up the allergens. Replace the rugs and carpet every few years, as they tend to trap and hold the allergens. Opt for blinds, instead of curtains.
- If your pet is causing allergies, then try to keep it outside as much as possible. Do not let your pet share your bed.
- Do not rub the eyes. This will make the symptoms worse. Rubbing the eye pushes the allergens deeper, increasing the problem.
- Limit the usage of contact lenses. Lenses dry the retina, causing eye burn. Spectacles are better than contact lenses. It also protects the eyes from irritation caused due to the computer.
- Do not wear eye makeup if you suffer from any eye problem.
- Red eyes are highly contagious. Do not share your towels, handkerchiefs, pillow case with anyone.
- Avoid sitting in front of the computer, laptops and television for longer period. We tend to blink less often when staring at the computer. This dries out the eyes, causing conjunctivitis. The television should be ideally 30 inches away from the body. Take mini breaks, preferably every 20 minutes while watching television. This will lessen the eyestrain.
- Purchase eyeglasses designed to limit the eyestrain from monitor glare. These eyeglasses diminish the glare coming from the computer, preventing red eyes.
- Smoke bothers the eyes, creating unnecessary redness. Buy an air cleaner to keep the house smoke and dust free.
- Do not go overboard on alcohol. Excess consumption of alcohol dehydrates, robbing essential fluids from the body. This in turn causes red eyes.
- Do not use cosmetics that cause eye redness. Eye makeup, especially mascara, eyeliner and eyelash extension can turn the eyes red. Use hypoallergenic products only to prevent eye redness.
- Not resting enough can make the eyes red. Ensure that you get adequate sleep and rest. A minimum 8 hours of sleep is enough to prevent red eyes.
These home remedies for red eye will effectively treat minor eye irritation. Do not forget to consult an eye specialist if the condition worsens. The doctor will check your vision, eyes and eyelids and will prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointments if required.
Hope you found this article helpful. If you have any other tip to treat red eyes, do share with us!