How To Get Rid of Red Eyes — Plus Causes & Triggers to Avoid

Written by Ally Streelman

NowRx Pharmacy

How To Get Rid of Red Eyes - NowRx

It can be alarming if your eyes appear red or bloodshot when you look in the mirror. However, thankfully most causes of red eyes aren’t serious.

Whether you’ve been staring at your phone screen for too long or just need some extra shut-eye, this article will provide you with the easy tips you need for how to get rid of red eyes fast.

But first, let’s take a look at some of the different causes of red eyes.

What Causes Red Eyes

Generally speaking, red eyes are caused by the blood vessels in our sclera (the white part of our eye) becoming dilated due to irritation or infection. While this can happen for a variety of reasons, some common culprits include:

In addition, dry eyes are another common irritant that can cause red or bloodshot eyes, usually as the result of environmental or lifestyle factors.

Yet, while most of these conditions are relatively minor, some causes of red eyes like blepharitis or a corneal abrasion can be more serious and require medical attention. If your red eyes are accompanied by pain or there are any signs of an infection you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Why are my eyes red when I wake up?

Oftentimes, if your eyes are red when you wake up it is just a matter of poor sleep or not sleeping enough. Like the rest of our body, the eyes need sleep to heal and refresh themselves. A lack of sleep can disrupt this process and lead to the appearance of being red or bloodshot in the morning.

However, if you are getting plenty of quality sleep then there are several other common culprits. Since our eyes produce less lubrication during sleep, individuals prone to dry eyes may wake up with irritation and redness. In addition, allergens or dust in the bedroom can cause red eyes when you wake up.

If you wake up with red eyes along with pain or signs of an infection you should seek medical attention as these may be signs of a more serious medical condition.

Why is my one eye red?

There are several reasons why redness in one eye can occur. For example, irritants such as dust or sand can cause minor discomfort that leads to a single eye becoming red. In addition, eye strain from looking at a screen for too long may impact a single eye more than the other causing it to become bloodshot.

However, having only one red eye may also signify a more serious issue such as an injury or infection like conjunctivitis. If one of your eyes is red and accompanied by pain or there are any signs of infection like pus or mucus then you should seek medical attention right away.

Do edibles make your eyes red? 

Yes, edibles do make your eyes red however the effect will vary by person and the amount consumed. The reason is one of the main components in edibles, THC, is known to induce corneal vasodilation. In other words, THC widens the blood vessels in the eyes which increases blood flow to the area. As a result, your eyes appear red or bloodshot in appearance.

How Long Do Red Eyes Last?

Red eyes last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks or longer depending on the cause and severity. For example, red eyes due to conjunctivitis may clear up in under a week on their own or persist for weeks and require an antibiotic. In addition, red eyes from an allergen or minor irritation will likely continue until you remove the cause. 

Ultimately, if there is no clear trigger, minimal irritation, and no signs of infection then your red eyes will likely clear up in a few days. However, if you aren’t experiencing relief from red eyes after a week then it’s important to see a doctor as this may be a sign of a more serious health condition.

How To Get Rid of Red Eyes

Artificial tears, antihistamine eye drops, and decongestant eye drops are all great options for how to get rid of red eyes. Most of these will be available over the counter (without a prescription) at most major pharmacies and supermarkets.

However, for red eyes caused by infection or severe inflammation, your doctor may prescribe a steroid or antibiotic eye drop. These are available by prescription only and will likely only be prescribed in extreme cases where traditional options would not work.

In addition to reducing redness, most eye drops prescription or over-the-counter can help reduce itchiness and dryness as well. Talk to your pharmacist about your symptoms and they will be able to offer advice on what options are available. Your pharmacist is often the best first-line resource to help since you can call or walk-in immediately.

How To Get Rid of Red Eyes Without Eye Drops

There are a number of options for how to get rid of red eyes without eye drops. Maybe you feel uncomfortable putting drops in your eye or don’t have access to a pharmacy nearby. Whatever the reason, here are a few remedies to help get rid of red eyes without eye drops:

  • Cold compresses: A cold washcloth or ice pack wrapped in a towel can help reduce inflammation and calm irritation which can reduce redness.
  • Dehumidifiers or humidifiers: If your room is moist, a dehumidifier can help remove moisture from the air and prevent irritants such as mold. On the other hand, a humidifier can help pump moisture into the room if it is too dry. 
  • A deep clean: Removing dust, pet dander, and other potential allergens from your home by giving it a deep clean can help rid your environment of irritants. 
  • Hydration: Hydrating actively can help reduce redness as your body needs water in order for your eyes to produce tears and stay lubricated. 
  • Decongestants: Decongestants, such as Zyrtec and Claritin, help block the body’s histamine response when it encounters allergens, which is what can cause eyes to become red.

Although there is no one catch-all solution to prevent or get rid of red eyes, try one or a few of these methods to help the next time you experience symptoms. As always, talk with a trusted healthcare professional before you start or stop any medication regimen.

How To Treat Red Eyes

Deciding how to treat red eyes requires you to figure out the root cause or trigger. For example, if you have a bacterial form of conjunctivitis then an antibiotic could help improve your symptoms without complications. On the other hand, if your red eyes are caused by lack of sleep or some other irritant then it will likely just go away on its own.

Ultimately, a good rule of thumb is if there is minimal irritation and no sign of infection then you can try a home remedy. However, if you don’t see relief within a week then you should seek medical attention.

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