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    How to Get Rid of Red Eyes (Without Eye Drops)

    Red eyes can be aesthetically troubling. Learn some tips to get rid of red eyes without eye drops, and the signs you need to see a doctor.

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    Last Updated Jun 11, 2022

    Reviewed by: Tom Tooma, M.D., Founder/Medical Director

    Home » Vision Education » How to Get Rid of Red Eyes (Without Eye Drops)

    Table of Contents

    What Are Red Eyes? Causes Treatments

    Potential Complications

    When to See a Doctor


    Frequently Asked Questions

    While often not a serious health risk, red eyes can still cause significant irritation, and they can be unattractive. You can often get rid of red eyes without eye drops by avoiding allergens and other irritants, using cool compresses on your eyes, getting more sleep, and using a humidifier.

    If these solutions don’t work within about a week, see a doctor to make sure there isn’t a more serious condition causing your red eyes.

    While eye drops can quickly relieve red eyes, many people don’t want to continually use eye drops. Eye drops don’t address the underlying issue causing eye redness.

    What Are Red Eyes?

    Red eye is an eye health symptom in which blood vessels on the eye’s surface become irritated or inflamed. It is generally accompanied by other symptoms, such as these:

    Itchiness Pain Teary eyes

    Irritated or sore eyelids

    The feeling of something in the eye

    Usually, red eyes are not serious, but if symptoms persist for more than a few days, cause serious discomfort, or impact your vision, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

    Causes of Red Eyes

    Multiple eye health conditions can cause red eyes. The most common include:

    Allergies & Other Irritants

    Some of the most common causes of red eyes are allergies to things such as pollen or pet dander. The body produces histamines to help combat these allergens, which it interprets as threats. This process causes blood vessels in the eye to dilate, creating a reddening effect as well as irritation.

    More serious irritants that can cause red eyes include exposure to chemicals, such as cleaning products, or smoke. In these cases, it is usually best to treat the exposure as serious even if you don’t notice any other significant symptoms.

    Burst Blood Vessel

    Sometimes blood vessels can burst in the eye, creating an effect called a subconjunctival hemorrhage. This can make the white of the eye look blood red due to blood leaking, but this condition is usually less serious than it seems.

    Infection or Conjunctivitis

    Conjunctivitis, an eye infection, can cause the eye to appear red and become irritated. Eye infections vary in severity, with some being very mild and others requiring immediate medical attention.

    Dry Eyes

    Dry eyes are a very common eye health symptom that can cause red eyes. Essentially, the eye becomes irritated when it experiences a problem with its natural lubrication process.

    The biggest indicator of dry eyes is usually when the eyes feel sore and are watery, which may also cause blurred vision. Dry eye usually isn’t serious on its own, but it can be very irritating.

    Blepharitis (Eyelid Inflammation) & Other Eyelid Complications

    If your red eye is accompanied by eyelid complications, such as swelling, itchiness, or drooping, it is usually not serious. For example, insect bites can cause swelling and itchiness on the eyelid, which may then impact the eye as well.

    If you are unsure of the cause of your inflammation, see a doctor.

    Ingrown Eyelashes

    Sometimes, eyelashes grow inward rather than outward. As the eyelash rubs against the eye and eyelid, this can cause irritation and potentially introduce bacteria to the eye.

    Lack of Sleep

    When you don’t get enough sleep, your eyes may not get sufficient oxygen, resulting in eye dryness. Since your eyes are open for longer, they are also getting less lubrication, further contributing to dryness. This can lead to persistent redness.

    You should contact your doctor if your red eyes persist for a week. Autoimmune conditions, such as psoriasis, sarcoidosis, and ulcerative colitis, may set off uveitis. Infections, such as syphilis, AIDS, tuberculosis, and herpes zoster, can also trigger this condition.

    Treatments for Red Eyes

    If you want to avoid eye drops, these are some common solutions to address red eyes:

    Avoid allergens. Since allergens are a common cause of red eyes, simply aiming to avoid or limit exposure to them can reduce instances and severity of red eyes.Use a humidifier. A humidifier will moisten the air, lessening the chances of dry eyes. Overall, this can result in less eye dryness and fewer instances of red eyes.Apply cool compresses or washcloths over your closed eyes. This can soothe your eyes and reduce redness.Use newly cleaned bedding and towels daily. This reduces the likelihood of bacteria and other irritants getting in your eyes, causing redness.

    Notably, these solutions are primarily for red eyes caused by environmental irritants like dust. In many cases, artificial tears may still help supplement your home treatment.

    Potential Complications

    The above treatments don’t carry many risks beyond potentially delaying expert treatment. If these treatments will help, you should generally see improvement within a week.

    If you don’t see improvement, the cause of your red eyes may be more serious than home treatments alone can resolve.

    Source : www.nvisioncenters.com

    How to Get Rid of Red Eyes

    Here’s how to get rid of red eyes fast, as well as what may be causing any itchiness or inflammation.

    Why Eye Redness Happens and How to Treat It

    Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI — Written by Elizabeth Connor — Updated on March 7, 2019

    We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

    Red eyes

    Your eyes are often considered to be a window into your soul, so it’s understandable that you don’t want them to be red and sore. Eye redness can happen when the blood vessels on the surface of your eye expand or dilate. This can happen when a foreign object or substance has gotten into your eye or when infection has formed.

    Eye redness is usually temporary and clears up quickly. Here are some things you can do to make the process easier.

    Short-term solutions for red eyes

    The right remedy for your red eyes depends on the specific cause. Generally, one or more of the following will ease the discomfort of most cases of red eyes.

    Warm compress

    Soak a towel in warm water and wring it out. The area around the eyes is sensitive, so keep the temperature at a reasonable level. Place the towel on your eyes for about 10 minutes. The heat can increase blood flow to the area. It can also increase oil production on your eyelids. This allows your eyes to create more lubrication.

    Cool compress

    If a warm compress isn’t working, you can take the opposite approach. A towel soaked in cool water and wrung out may also provide short-term relief for red eye symptoms. It can relieve any swelling and reduce any itchiness from irritation. Be sure to avoid any extremes of temperature in the area around your eyes, or you may make the problem worse.

    Artificial tears

    Tears lubricate your eyes and help keep them clean. Short-term or long-term dryness might call for over-the-counter artificial tears to keep your eyes healthy. If cool artificial tears are recommended, consider refrigerating the solution.

    Long-term solutions for red eyes

    If you regularly experience red, irritated eyes, you may need to think beyond quick fixes. Here are a few lifestyle changes that may relieve your symptoms. You should also talk to your doctor if the problem persists.

    Switch contacts

    If you’re experiencing chronic eye redness and you wear contact lenses, the problem may involve your eyewear. The materials found inside certain lenses can increase your likelihood for infection or irritation. If you’ve recently switched lenses — or if you’ve had the same type of lenses for a while — and experience redness, talk to your eye doctor. They can help you pinpoint the problem.

    The contact solution that you use can also affect your eyes. Certain solution ingredients aren’t as compatible with certain lens materials. Make sure you’re using the best contact solution for your lenses.

    Pay attention to your diet

    If you aren’t staying hydrated, it can cause your eyes to be bloodshot. Generally, a person needs about 8 cups of water a day to maintain a proper fluid balance.

    Eating an excessive amount of inflammatory foods may cause eye redness. Processed foods, dairy products, and fast foods can all cause inflammation if eaten in excess. You can relieve this by limiting the amount you eat or adding more inflammation-reducing foods to your diet.

    Research Trusted Source Trusted Source

    has found that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation. These are commonly found in fish, such as salmon, and seeds and nuts, such as flaxseed. You can also take supplements containing omega-3s.

    Be aware of your surroundings

    Your environment can also affect your eyes. If you’re constantly surrounded by allergens, such as pollen or smoke, it may be at the root of the problem. Dry air, humidity, and wind can also have an effect.

    What causes red eyes?

    Although there are countless reasons why your eyes may be red, these are the most common:

    Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

    As the name suggests, pink eye can cause inflammation in the eye area. The highly contagious condition appears in three forms: bacterial, viral, and allergic.

    Bacterial conjunctivitis is typically treated with a prescription antibiotic. Viral conjunctivitis can be soothed with a cool compress and cool artificial tears. Symptoms generally clear in less than two weeks.

    Allergic conjunctivitis also benefits from cool compresses and cool artificial tears. You should also consider cool allergy eye drops. Your doctor can help you identify the specific source of irritation and how to reduce it.

    Check out: The best pink eye remedies »


    Many people experience eye irritation when exposed to pollen. To reduce irritation, stay inside when pollen counts are highest. This is usually during mid-morning and early evening. You should also take precautions when conditions are windy. Use eye protection outdoors.

    Mold is another common allergen. If that’s the case for you, keep the humidity level of your home between 30 and 50 percent. If you live in a humid climate, you may need a dehumidifier. Make sure you regularly clean high-humidity areas, such as basements or bathrooms, to keep them free of mold.

    Pet dander can be controlled with some common sense strategies. If possible, keep your pets outside. You should also keep them away from things that will touch your eyes, such as bed pillows. Avoid rubbing your eyes after touching your pet, and wash your hands after any contact has been made.

    Source : www.healthline.com

    8 Ways to Reduce Eye Redness Without a Prescription

    We spoke with eye doctors to find out how to treat red, irritated eyes. See their tips inside.


    8 Ways to Reduce Eye Redness Without a Prescription


    medically reviewed by NICOLE SWINER, MD Family Doctor

    fact checked by ANNA HARRIS



    The worst thing about waking up with red, bloodshot eyes isn't the fact that they instantly make you look sick and/or hungover. It's that usually they're accompanied by itching (if it's allergies or irritation) or a headache (if you maybe had too much wine the night before).

    "Eye 'redness' can be caused by several factors, including genetics, anatomy, past surgery, overuse of vasoconstrictive eye drops, allergy, infection, etc., and exacerbated by irritation or inflammation on the eye's surface," says optometrist Jeffrey Kegarise. In short, bloodshot eyes aren't fun—particularly if you're already not feeling great. To see how to prevent and deal with red eyes, we consulted Kegarise and Andrew Iwach, MD. Of course, if your symptoms are unusual or last longer than a few days, contact your eye doctor.


    Andrew Iwach, MD, is a fellow at the American Academy of Ophthalmology. He is also the executive director of the Glaucoma Center of San Francisco.

    Jeffrey Kegarise, OD, is a board-certified optometrist and president at Cool Springs Eye Care.

    Below are eight expert-approved ways to deal with red eyes that don't require a trip to the doctor's office.


    01 of 08

    Try Heat Therapy

    Spacemasks Self-Heating Eye Mask $21.00


    "Heat helps the oil go through the glands," says Iwach, which should help reduce irritation.

    "It is these tear glands that, when partially blocked (think: candle wax or toothpaste), increase inflammation on the surface of the eye and promote a redness response," adds Kegarise. "It may take a few weeks, yet heat will effectively improve the appearance of the eyelids and eyes by minimizing the inflammation and hyperosmolarity (less water/increased salts and stuff) in the tear film that promotes a redness response in the body."

    Kegarise's DIY heat therapy entails placing a warm hard-boiled egg, a potato in a warm water-soaked paper towel, or a microwaved rice bag (make sure it's not too hot) on the surface of your closed eyelids. "Do this as hot as you can (without any burning of the lids!), as often as you can, for as long as you can. Ideally, even one time per day for 10 minutes is effective. Once completed, press inward (with clean fingers), on the eyelid, rolling the fingers toward the middle plane of the eye in an upward direction for the lower lids and a downward direction for the upper lids," instructs Kegarise. However, if you're not a fan of creating your own compress, you can also try eye masks. Spacemasks makes a Self-Heating Eye Mask, which is one of our faves.

    02 of 08

    Apply a Cold Compress

    On the other side of the temperature spectrum, Iwach says applying cold temperatures to your eyes can help reduce inflammation and redness and make your eyeballs feel better. This can be a cool washcloth (just ensure that it's soft and clean to reduce/prevent irritation) or even cucumber slices. Simply place your cucumber slices in the fridge beforehand for maximum cooling relief.

    03 of 08

    Detox Digitally and From Dry Air

    When you don't blink enough, your eyes aren't properly lubricated, which can cause redness: "We live in a digital world and when we do close work on a computer, laptop, tablet, or cell phone, we tend to stare and this decreases the blink rate. It also tends to cause cramping-like fatigue in the focusing and converging muscles of the eye," says Kegarise. If you spend a lot of time on your phone or computer, try taking "blink breaks" every few minutes to keep the moisture balance of your eyes intact.

    Kegarise explains how the simple, yet effective "20/20 blink rule" will help you work longer and more comfortably, as well as minimize a common cause of redness in the eyes. "When on the computer, every 20 minutes, look away for 20 seconds at a distance target and squeeze-blink your eyes firmly two times. Firm blinking also forces tear glands to release the oily output as a contribution to the tears. This oily layer reduces dry eye by keeping the tears in contact with the eye and not allowing them to evaporate. Dry eyes naturally force a body response to increase permeability of the blood vessels and, thus, redness."

    Blue light glasses are also a great way to help prevent dry eyes, as they reduce the strain on them when using screens.

    Source : www.byrdie.com

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