Waking up in the morning with red eyes and bloodshot eyes is not a very wonderful way to begin the day, but many people face this problem.
When the white areas of the eyes become red, you may feel worried. Well, red or bloodshot eyes are not always a serious problem, but anything related to the eyes should not be ignored.
The white areas of the eyes appear bloodshot or red due to changes to the blood vessels that supply the membrane covering the front of the eye.
This can occur due to an infection like conjunctivitis. Many other common conditions that may cause redness in the eyes include blepharitis, a sty, a chalazion and dry eyes.
There are many serious conditions linked to red eyes, which include corneal scratches or abrasions, uveitis and glaucoma. Such serious conditions should be diagnosed and treated by an eye doctor.
Other day-to-day activities, habits and illnesses can lead to red eyes.
Persons who are always surrounded by allergens, such as pollen or smoke, may experience red eyes. Dry air, humidity, wind and exposure to sunlight can also have an effect. Coughing often or even suffering from a cold or flu can cause red blotches to appear in your eyes. However, it clears up soon.
Also, working for long hours in front of a computer, wearing contact lens for an extended period of time, excessive drinking and rubbing the eyes vigorously can lead to red eyes.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, red eyes can also feel uncomfortable, itchy or watery (1).
In most cases, the conditions that cause eye redness aren’t serious and will clear up without medical treatment within a week or two. Meanwhile, there are several home remedies that can help relieve any symptoms you may be experiencing.
Caution: If you have red eyes that are also painful and sensitive to light, see a doctor immediately.
1. Cold Compress
Cold compresses are also very effective at treating inflammation and swelling in your eyes that can cause redness.
The cold temperature will help tighten up the skin around your eyes as well as relax the blood vessels. This in turn will reduce eye redness.
- Dip a soft washcloth in cold water and wring out the extra water. Place the cold washcloth on your closed eyelids for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat as needed.
- Alternatively, wrap a few ice cubes in a clean cloth. Place it on your closed eyelids for 1 minute. Take a 5-minute break, then reapply the compress for 1 minute. Do it 2 or 3 times a day.
2. Rose Water
Rose water has a soothing and relaxing effect on your eyes. Its anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation and irritation in your eyes, which in turn reduces the redness.
A 2010 study published in Ophthalmology and Eye Diseases reports that when used in eye drops to treat conjunctivitis, the antiseptic and analgesic properties of rose water help a lot (2).
- Soak 2 cotton pads in rose water. Place the soaked pads on your closed eyes. Leave them on for 15 minutes. Do this once or twice daily.
- Another option is to put 2 or 3 drops of rose water in your eyes twice a day. Make sure you are using pure and good-quality rose water.
3. Frequent Rinsing
If you have red eyes due to exposure to dust, harsh sunrays, pollen or any chemical, avoid constantly rubbing your eyes as it will only increase the inflammation and cause more redness.
Instead, to relieve this discomfort, rinse your eyes several times a day.
To do so, simply splash some cool water on your eyes. Do it several times to soothe your eyes and help get rid of the irritant that’s causing the eye redness.
4. Warm Compress
Placing a warm compress over your eyelids can also help deal with bloodshot eyes.
The heat from the compress increases blood circulation to the area and promotes the formation of tears, which in turn reduces eye dryness.
A warm compress will also soothe eye irritation.
- Dip a lint-free cloth in warm water and wring out the excess water.
- Lie down comfortably, close your eyes and place the warm towel over your eyelids for 1 minute.
- Change the washcloth and repeat the process 3 or 4 times.
- Finally, give your eyes a nice rinse with lukewarm water.
- Use this treatment 1 or 2 times daily.
Caution: As the eyes are very sensitive, check the temperature of the cloth before applying it over the eyelids. It is always best to use separate washcloths for each eye.
5. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help in dealing with red and irritated eyes. Its ethanol and ethyl acetate extracts are often used in eye drops to prevent inflammation.
A 2012 study published in Pharmaceutical Biology reports that aloe vera contains multiple pharmacologically active substances that are capable of modulating cellular phenotypes and functions. Aloe vera ethanol and ethyl acetate extracts may be used in eye drops to treat inflammation and other ailments of external parts of the eyes, such as the cornea (3).
- Blend together equal amounts of aloe vera gel and water.
- Refrigerate the mixture for 1 hour.
- Soak 2 cotton pads in the cool mixture and place them over your closed eyes.
- Leave them on for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Do this 2 or 3 times a day.
6. Blink More Often
Regular blinking can improve the flow of tears to help moisten the eyes. It will even help get rid of irritants that may be causing bloodshot eyes.
Blinking also helps reduce symptoms of dry eyes as well as eye strain.
- Close your eyes fully and count to 2.
- Then, squeeze the eyelids together and again count to 2.
- Finally, open your eyes and count to 2.
- Do this 5 or 6 times to complete a set.
- You can do this blinking exercise a few times a day.
Cucumber is another excellent cure for red eyes. It helps shrink the blood vessels in your eyes and treats the condition. The soothing nature of cucumber relaxes strained eyes and even reduces the uneasy feelings caused by red eyes.
A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences highlights the hydrating, nourishing and astringent properties in cucumber (4).
- Cut a few slices of a refrigerated cucumber.
- Place a slice on each eye.
- Leave it on for about 30 minutes.
- Repeat 2 or 3 times daily for best results.
8. Tea Bags
Do not throw away used black tea bags. You can use them to reduce eye redness.
Tea is rich in tannins and bioflavonoids that can be effective in treating red eyes.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry highlights the astringent properties of tannins, which are present in abundance in tea (5).
- Put 2 used black tea bags in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Lie down and put the chilled tea bags over your closed eyelids.
- Leave them in place for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Repeat a few times a day or until the redness goes away.
- Avoid sitting in front of your computer for long hours, as it may strain your eyes. Make sure you take breaks to give your eyes a rest.
- Drinking and smoking can also aggravate your eyes and cause redness.
- Avoid contact with substances that may cause irritation to your eyes.
- Always wash your hands if you’ve been in contact with anyone who has an eye infection.
- Never go to sleep without removing your eye makeup.
- Do not wear contact lenses for prolonged periods. Always clean your contact lenses before and after using them.
- If any foreign substance or irritant enters your eyes, splash cool water on your eyes immediately.