Blood-Shot Eyes: Embarrassing Health Problem Fix

blood shot eye
Flickr photo by *Debs*

Periodically we'll talk to a doc about an everyday health problem you'd never dream of discussing at the coffee shop. Email if you want yours featured.

Blood-Shot Eyes

Red eyes are the second most common reason for visits to the eye doctor after the number one reason: Needing glasses. Blood-shot eyes can result from infection, allergies, or in very rare cases, hemorrhages -- but for most of us, they're from getting too little sleep because of a crying baby (or a much needed all-night bender). The reason? Dehydration, or lack of tears.

Our tear production drops by half at night, and couple that with alcohol (a diuretic that saps water from your body), irritating cigarette smoke, or just being up and awake, and you get that humiliating crimson road map.

Don't run for your usual drops. Ophthalmologist Dr. Richard Bensinger, spokesman for the American Academy of Academy of Ophthalmology, has a much better treatment:


Hide it ... and treat it:

There are two basic types of eye drops. DON'T buy the kind that say "gets the red out." That doesn't make sense, does it?

But these drops contain a vasoconstrictor drug that removes the red by shrinking the vessels in the eyes. They also dry out your eyes -- exactly what got you into this mess in the first place. So the red may disappear instantly and temporarily, but it'll return later.

Instead, go for the drops that say "lubricating drops," which supplement your natural tears and return moisture to the eye. The effect may not be as immediate as the red-relieving drops, but you won't get the rebound effect.

Prevent it:

If you're going out drinking or if you think you'll be up with the baby, drink lots of water to keep as hydrated as possible. Avoid cigarette smoke, one of the main culprits or irritated eyes.

This is just general advice -- consult your own doctor for the best treatment for you.

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