An eye irritation is particularly troubling and unpleasant. Indeed, whenever our vision is concerned, we’re quickly overwhelmed with worry.

Why do our eyes turn red?

Red eyes can be a symptom of dilated or ruptured blood vessels. It can, however, also be caused by a number of everyday factors.

1. A mild irritation

Many things can result in red eyes. Usually, it’s a mild irritation caused by:

  • A foreign body: your eyes may have come into contact with an irritant like soap, sand or dust,
  • Vision fatigue due to the excessive use of digital screens,
  • Contact lenses.

This type of irritation is easy to treat. Sometimes, all you have to do is wait it out or try a few simple tricks: 

  • Rest your eyes: ideally, you should take a 15-minute break for every 45 minutes of screen time. The break helps relieve the strain of constant near-point focusing and resets your blink reflex, which is less frequent when staring at a screen.
  • Place a cold compress on your eyes to relieve them and reduce any possible swelling. Ideally, the compress should be dry: you can put ice cubes in an airtight bag and wrap it in a dry washcloth. There are also micro-marble masks available that can be frozen to soothe red eyes.
  • If your contact lenses are the issue, you may have been wearing them too long. Switch to glasses to diminish redness, and hydrate your eyes. If the redness persists whenever you wear contact lenses, you should consult your optometrist as soon as possible.

2. Allergy

If your eyes turn red during hay fever season (usually spring and summer), your eyes may be reacting to airborne allergens like pollen. Anti-allergenic or anti-inflammatory drops can help treat this, but be aware that there are several contraindications to the use of eye drops. Ask your Opto-Réseau optometrist for more information.

3. Eye disease

If your symptoms last more than 3 days, we strongly recommend that you consult your optometrist, who will be able to diagnose and prescribe an appropriate treatment. In some cases, redness may be a symptom of certain eye diseases that must be taken seriously. These include:

  • Conjunctivitis, which is characterized by inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, that is, the membrane that covers the whites of your eye and the inside of your eyelids.
  • Corneal lesions or ulcers, caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
  • Glaucoma, which is the result of increased pressure on the optic nerve and can cause blindness.

For more information about eye disorders, contact your nearest Opto-Réseau clinic.