Even when you have dazzling eyes, the whites of your eyes are filled with tiny blood vessels. Most of the time, these blood vessels aren’t noticeable because they’re so small. But when they expand, your eyes take on a reddish hue. 

Commonly called bloodshot eyes, red eyes range from a mild pink color to a dark red. And there are dozens of possible causes behind red eyes. Everyone experiences red eyes from time to time, but if you’re always noticing red eyes when you look in the mirror, it could be time for a visit to the optometrist.

At Pacific Eye, our team specializes in diagnosing and treating red eyes. We offer comprehensive eye exams to people of all ages, and we work with you to treat your bothersome red eyes, whether you have dry eye, allergies, or a more serious condition.

Common causes of red eyes 

A few of the most common causes of temporary eye redness are crying, eye fatigue, or getting an irritant like soap in your eye. Irritation causes blood vessels to swell, and your eyes might feel itchy, sore, or tired. 

Some conditions cause red eyes to appear more frequently. Allergies or chronic dry eye can leave you with uncomfortable red eyes for weeks or even months, but these conditions generally don’t pose a risk to your vision or eye health.

Acute illness and some eye surgeries can also make your eyes red. Conjunctivitis, a common eye infection, is also called pinkeye because it makes the whites of your eyes pink. And a common side effect of the popular LASIK surgery is temporary eye redness.

Treating your red eyes

Redness that develops from eye fatigue often disappears within a day. Resting your eyes or applying a warm or cool compress can minimize discomfort and decrease the size of enlarged blood vessels. 

But if you’re bothered by recurrent red eyes, schedule an appointment with our eye doctors. We perform a complete eye exam and talk with you about your symptoms to best identify the reasons behind your red eyes.

The most effective treatment depends largely on the cause. If you get red eyes every spring when trees and flowers start to bloom, medication to manage seasonal allergies may be enough to treat your eye redness. 

Chronic dry eye is often remedied by artificial tears or a minor procedure to clear tear ducts. If you have pinkeye, your eye doctor will prescribe medication to treat the infection and clear up your red eyes.

Red eyes: signs of a more serious eye problem

Red eyes don’t always point to a serious eye condition, but in some cases, they can be a symptom of an underlying problem. Uveitis is inflammation of the uvea, or the middle tissue inside your eye. It causes eye redness, and it may lead to glaucoma, cataracts, or vision loss if left untreated.

Other serious eye conditions that may cause red eyes include glaucoma and corneal ulcers. In general, consider visiting the eye doctor if you notice eye redness along with any of these symptoms:

  • Swelling in or around the eyes
  • Eye pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Changes in vision

Bright red eyes or eye redness that develops after an injury are also signs that your eyes could need prompt medical attention. When it comes to your vision and your eye health, it’s always better to be on the safe side. 

Learn more about what’s causing your red eyes and find a personalized treatment plan to restore your eye health at Pacific Eye, which has seven locations in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. Book an appointment today at the office closest to you.