Eye redness - Treatment
Bloodshot eyes; Red eyes; Scleral infection; Conjunctival infection
For fatigue or eyestrain, try to rest your eyes. No treatment is necessary.
If you have conjunctivitis:
- Avoid touching the infected eye and then rubbing the other eye -- the infection can spread from one eye to the other.
- Apply cool or warm compresses throughout the day.
- Do not use eye makeup or wear contact lenses until the infection has cleared. Throw away items like these that you used in your infected eye.
- Wash your hands frequently.
If you have blepharitis:
- Apply warm compresses to your eyes for 5 minutes. Do this at least two times per day.
- Using a cotton swab, gently rub a solution of warm water and no-tears baby shampoo along your eyelid, where the lash meets the lid. Do this in the morning and before you go to bed.
Call your health care provider if:
Go to the hospital or call your local emergency number (such as 911) if:
- Your eye is red after a penetrating injury.
- You have a headache along with blurred vision or confusion.
- You are seeing halos around lights.
- You have nausea and vomiting.
Call your health care provider if:
- Your eyes are red longer than 1-2 days.
- You have eye pain or vision changes.
- You take blood thinning medication, like warfarin.
- You may have an object in your eye.
- You are very sensitive to light.
- You have a yellow or greenish discharge from one or both eyes.
What to expect at your health care provider's office:
Your doctor will perform a physical exam, including an eye exam, and ask questions about your medical history. Questions may include:
- Are both of your eyes affected? If only one eye, which one?
- What part of the eye is affected -- the white part, or elsewhere?
- Did the redness come on suddenly?
- Have you ever had eye redness before?
- Do you have eye pain? Does it get worse after movement of the eyes?
- Do you have other symptoms like eye discharge, burning, or itching? Nausea or vomiting? A headache?
The eyes may need to be washed out with normal saline solution, and any foreign bodies will need to be removed. Eye drops may be prescribed.
Click here to see a video about how to use eye drops.
To prevent conjunctivitis:
- Do NOT share anything that has touched the eye of someone with this contagious condition -- like pillowcases, sheets, towels, or eyeliner.
- Wash your hands right away if you have come in contact with someone with conjunctivitis.
- Wash out any chemicals or objects from your eye immediately.
- Reviewed last on: 1/4/2011
- A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine (8/31/2010).
Wright JL, Wightman JM. Red and painful eye. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 32.
Rubenstein JB, Virasch V. Conjunctivitis: Infectious and noninfectious. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 4.6.
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