What are bloodshot eyes?

Bloodshot eyes describe a condition in which the whites of the eyes appear red. Bloodshot eyes occur when the blood vessels in the sclera (the white of the eye) dilate or swell. A variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions can irritate the blood vessels of the sclera and cause bloodshot eyes.

Bloodshot eyes are often due to mild conditions, such as eye fatigue, dehydration, and overuse of contact lenses. They can also be due to infections and allergic reactions. In some cases, a bloodshot or red eye or eyes can indicate an emergent condition that can lead to loss of sight, such as acute glaucoma or an eye injury.

Bloodshot eyes can begin suddenly and disappear quickly, such as when you have a mild allergic reaction to animal dander or dust. Bloodshot eyes can also develop with time and occur along with additional symptoms, which may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as a corneal ulcer or eye infection. Depending on the underlying cause, treatment for bloodshot eyes can range from rest and hydration to more extensive treatment, such as medication or surgery.

Because bloodshot eyes may be a sign of a serious condition, contact your medical professional about your symptoms. Seek prompt medical care if you have unexplained, persistent, or severely bloodshot eyes or if you are concerned about your symptoms. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have bloodshot eyes accompanied by severe eye pain, loss of vision, or signs of anaphylactic shock (swollen tongue and throat, hives, and difficulty breathing).


What other symptoms might occur with bloodshot eyes?

Bloodshot eyes may occur with other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. For example, bloodshot eyes due to dry eyes may be accompanied by irritation or eye pain. Bloodshot eyes caused by infection may include eye discharge, swelling, pain, and red eyelids. If you have other symptoms along with your eye symptoms, be sure to tell your health care provi... Read more about bloodshot eyessymptoms


What causes bloodshot eyes?

Although bloodshot eyes can be caused by relatively mild conditions, such as dry eyes or the common cold, bloodshot eyes can also be caused by serious or life-threatening conditions, such as an anaphylactic reaction or acute glaucoma, both of which should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting.

Infectious causes of bloodshot eyes

Bloodshot eyes can be caused b... Read more about bloodshot eyescauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Eyes and Vision

Popular Eyes and Vision Slide Show