By Sola Ogundipe
Red eye usually means that the whites of the eyes appear bloodshot. This happens because of changes to the blood vessels that supply the membrane covering the front of the eye.
The conjunctiva is the membrane that covers the front of the eye and lines the eyelids. The blood vessels of this membrane can dilate, causing the eyes to appear reddened. This is usually caused by infection, allergic reaction or inflammation.
Rarer problems can also cause the eye to become red, such as an increase in pressure inside the eye. In most cases, the cause is conjunctivitis. Here are some relief tips.
Regularly place a cool compress over the eyes, made by soaking clean cotton wool or cloth in warm or cold water and then squeezing it out. Avoid eye makeup, or choose hypoallergenic eye makeup. Use artificial tears, or over-the-counter or from pharmacies.
Apply antihistamine drops if red eyes are due, for example to a seasonal allergy. If you are planning to use eye drops, speak to a health care provider first, as some drops may increase redness.
To prevent red eyes from starting or worsening, avoid smoke, pollen, dust, and other triggers. Do not wear contact lenses until the red eye clears. Always clean lenses properly and do not reuse disposable lenses.
Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching the eyes to prevent infection. Wash clothes, pillowcases, and towels regularly.
Bathe or shower before bed or after coming in from outside if you have a seasonal allergy. Wear sunglasses to protect the eyes from pollen or dust when outside.