Causes of Bloodshot Eyes – Symptoms of Red Eyes


Although red eye is usually painless, it is important to find out why red eye takes place. Red eyes have several causes and it can be easily identified with several symptoms.

Bloodshot eyes are often referred to as red eyes, the name due to redness in the white part of the eyeball (the cornea) or sometimes the red tint that appears around the eyes from repeated touching and rubbing. Bloodshot eye takes place when blood vessels near the surface of the eye become enlarged and dilated. Red eye is a very common condition and doctors don’t tend to take immediate action when a patient comes with red eyes. Bloodshot eye is generally associated to something else such as tiredness, substance abuse, allergies, cold/flu or trauma. Mostly, it is found in both eyes but bloodshot in one eye cannot be excluded.

Causes of Bloodshot Eyes - Symptoms of Red Eyes

Bloodshot eye takes place as a result of insufficient oxygen supply to the cornea or the tissues that covers the eyes. Generally, bloodshot eyes are not actually a cause for major concern. However, if eye pain or impaired vision takes place, this may be a sign of a serious problem requiring medical emergency. It is always best to search for the recommendation of a medical professional. As a result of a small amount of bleeding, uniformly dense bloody area forms on the sclera and this bloody blotch generally takes place upon waking up in the morning. This bloody blotch is referred as a subconjunctival hemorrhage. It is painless but looks dreadful. It will clear within a few days.

Causes of red eyes:

Dry Eyes:

Tears of eye have function to lubricate, nourish and protect the surface of the eye. When the tears are not of good quality or not produced enough for lubrication, the surface of the eye becomes dry. Chronic dryness leads to inflamed surface of the eye and dilated blood vessels, causing increased redness.

Eye Trauma:

To heal and repair the injury, eyes need more blood and so the blood vessels become enlarge and dilate. The unusually high blood supply in the traumatized area becomes visible as a red.

Allergic Conjunctivitis:

Conjunctivitis is a form of pink eye, featuring inflammation or infection of the clear, protective layer that coats the front part of the eye. Usually, it can be caused by allergies, bacteria, viruses, or toxic substances.

Frequent Use of Eye Drops:

Some people often use certain kinds of eye drops to decrease redness. Constant use of this type of eye drops can cause dilation of the eyes’ blood vessels. When the effect of the eye drops wear off, blood vessels sometimes dilate larger, causing the eyes to appear even more bloodshot.

Wearing Contact Lenses:

Wearing contact lenses every day (or for extended periods of time) can cause the eyes to appear red in some people. In others, simply having a foreign body, for example a contact lens, in the eye causes redness.

Acute Angle-Closure Glaucoma:

It is a type of glaucoma that causes several recognizable signs, including painful redness that usually occurs in one eye. This condition is a serious medical emergency and must be treated immediately.


It is a chronic infection and inflammation of the eyelid and eyelashes which may be caused by poor eyelid hygiene. Other causes include oily eyelid glands, allergic reactions, bacterial infections, or lice on the eyelashes.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage:

A blood vessel that bursts causes subconjunctival hemorrhage which spreads blood under the conjunctiva. Usually, this is sudden and unexpected and may be caused by a hard sneeze or cough. Vomiting, injury, hypertension and diabetes are the other causes.

Causes of Bloodshot Eyes - Symptoms of Red Eyes


Uveitis is an inflammation of the eye’s uvea (the pigmented middle of the three concentric layers that make up an eye). It can lead to redness, pain, blurry vision, floaters and light sensitivity. It requires immediate medical attention due to possible complications like uveitic glaucoma. Scarring of the retina can also occur. 


Corneal Ulcer or Infection:

The cornea has no blood vessels; it is dome-like structure that helps the eye to achieve clear vision. Surrounding blood vessels enlarge when an ulcer or infection develops, bringing immune system cells to help fight the infection.

Possible Causes of Bloodshot Eyes in the Morning:

  • Cosmetic products used at night
  • Decreased tear secretion at night
  • Sleep/sleep apnea/sleep deprivation
  • Food and diet (from previous day)
  • Alcohol (usually as a result of disrupted REM sleep and/or a hangover)

Possible Causes of Bloodshot Eyes at Night:

  • Fatigue
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Sun exposure
  • Chemical fumes
  • Environmental toxins
  • Strain/overuse
  • Overuse of contact lenses

Symptoms of Red Eye:

Generally, the degree of redness does not associate to how serious the situation is, but somewhat your overall state of health. Taking into account the severity of bloodshot eye symptoms such as eye pain or impaired vision is important. Bloodshot eyes often take place with other symptoms, including:

  • Itchiness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Mucus/pus
  • Dryness/ dry eye
  • Headache/neck pain
  • Twitching
  • Stomach ache/bloating/pain
  • Sniffing/sneezing/coughing
  • Swelling of the feet and hands

If an episode of bloodshot eyes continues for longer than three days and/or you are experiencing any eye pain and vision problems, it is vital that you consult a doctor to determine the cause and to find relief for red eyes. A detailed eye examination as well as your medical history will diagnose the cause and physical examination will also help to exclude any other medical condition.

Bloodshot Eyes Treatment:

Bloodshot eyes treatment depends on the cause. When fatigue or eyestrain is the cause of bloodshot eyes, treatment is generally not required. Serious cases of bloodshot eyes may require you to consult with an ophthalmologist.

Antihistamine and Vasoconstrictors: These are suitable if redness is caused by allergies. Many effective antihistamines and vasoconstrictors are available over-the-counter at drug stores and grocery stores.

Artificial Tears: These are eye lubricant drops that are suitable for use with dry eyes.

Cold Compresses: These help to decrease the amount of dilation in the blood vessels of the eyes. A clean, wet washcloth works well, as do small bags of frozen peas or corn. Apply the compresses for 5-10 minutes several times a day.

Other treatments for natural relief:

  • Eye washes generally contain saline solution or boric acid and eye-drops contain decongestant to constrict blood vessels.
  • Splash plenty of cold water on the eyes on an hourly basis.
  • While in front of the computer, avoid staring at it for a long time. Take frequent breaks in between your work.
  • Eye drops containing Cineraria Maritima and Eupharasia Officinalis are very effective in treating blood shot eyes.
  • Simple eye exercises can also help to prevent this illness. Now, roll the eyes and then move them up and down, left and right while keeping the head still. This helps to strengthen the eye muscles.

Specific Foods that Help Red Eyes or A Diet that Help Bloodshot Eyes

  • Flaxseed oil / Linseed oil
  • Spirulina algae
  • Barley grass
  • Olive oil
  • Stevia
  • Calcium, magnesium, Vitamin D
  • Drink plenty of water, steam-distilled if possible
  • Fresh fruits, especially flavonoid-rich berries such as blueberries, blackberries and cherries
  • Foods rich in vitamins E and C, such as raw fruits and veggies
  • Grains and legumes
  • Essential fatty acids found in fish, nuts, and leafy vegetables, especially kale, spinach and mustard greens

Foods to Avoid:

  • Refined oils
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Fried, smoked, grilled foods
  • Soft drinks
  • Saturated fats
  • Refined salt, table salt
  • Chlorinated water
  • Margarine and other hydrogenated fats
  • Dairy products, especially hard cheeses
  • Aspartame, MSG – Mono Sodium Glutamate and other food additives
  • Sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, chocolate and other foods containing similar concentrated sweeteners

To prevent bloodshot eyes:

  • Do not watch too much TV at a stretch.
  • Wash your eyes regularly if you work on a computer for a long time. Avoid straining your eyes too much.
  • Wear sunglasses if you are exposed to bright sunlight for a long time.
  • Avoid too much alcohol consumption at one time.