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Rise And Shine To Bloodshot Eyes? You're Not Alone

By Essilor News

If it's not insulting enough to have the alarm clock go off before dawn and rouse you from your dreams, shuffling into the bathroom and looking in the mirror to find some red-eyed monster staring back at you is no way to start a day. Waking up with bloodshot eyes is far from uncommon, and as with most obvious issues in appearance, inevitably crops up at the worst possible moment.

Coworkers might needle you with water cooler catcalls of "Big night last night?" and "Woah, somebody had fun on a Tuesday." But the truth is that bloodshot eyes might have very little to do with the night before. The term "bloodshot" is actually sort of grossly accurate, because your red eyes are the result of blood vessels on the sclera - the white part of the eye - becoming swollen. The cause of that swelling, though, can vary wildly.

On the one hand, red eyes can be caused by simple environmental irritants. Too long out in the sun during a day at the beach, too much wind on the ski hill, driving along a dusty back road with the windows down or any number of other irritants can make your eyes light up like a stop sign.

Perhaps you have a cold or allergies and your eyes are a little red, but suddenly a spot forms on the sclera that's not just a little irritated-looking, its horror-film red. This bloody spot might look bad to passersby and partners, but severe coughing or sneezing commonly causes what's called a subconjunctival hemorrhage. In short, the power of your snot rocket literally popped a blood vessel in your face. The good news is that these spots typically clear up within a couple of weeks.

Of course, there are more serious issues that can cause bloodshot eyes, ranging from conjunctivitis (deceptively called pink eye - it looks red to us) to corneal ulcers. If your red eyes are chronic, severe or accompanied by pain or other issues, it's time to high-tail it to the optometrist's office.

For run-of-the-mill red eyes, whether caused by staring wide-eyed during a video game binge or a long night on the town, there are a few ways to tame the wild man look. If it's dry eye and irritation that's got your number, artificial tears and eye drops are the ticket. Squirt a few in for relief (following the package's directions, of course) and things should clear up shortly. If it's allergies, antihistamine-type medications should calm the electric look in your eyes, along with other symptoms. Cold compresses and making sure you're properly hydrated can also have a positive effect.

Whether dry, irritated or sneezed into an angry red state, bloodshot eyes are usually a temporary condition that are easy to fix. Of course, that's hard to remember when you stagger off the overnight flight with still-in contact lenses, and it feels like the back of your eyelids are made of old shag carpet. They don't call them "red eyes" for nothing.