Bloodshot Eye, No Pain, Meaning, Causes & Treatment

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What does it mean to have a bloodshot eye?  Red eye or blood shot eye occurs when the small blood vessels on the surface of the eye become swollen, enlarged and congested with blood.  A common cause for this condition is lack of adequate oxygen supply.

There are other conditions that might lead to red eye.  This article offers an insight into the meaning, causes, and treatment of a red eye. The information provided attempts to answer the following questions:

  • Why do I have bloodshot eyes?
  • Why do I always wake up with red eyes?
  • How do you get rid of red eyes?
  • Can using eye drops makes your eyes red?

Bloodshot eye meaning

Bloodshot is a common condition that can affect one or both your eyes. The redness is often as a result of the blood vessels in your eyes becoming enlarge or dilated. There are a lot of conditions that could cause the red eye. Some of these conditions are considered serious whereas others are harmless and often not cause for concern.

According to the national health services, United Kingdom, red eye can be alarming but is it often a sign of a minor eye condition such as a burst blood vessel. When it causes pain, then it could be a sign of something serious that needs to be examined as soon as possible.

Mayo clinic adds that red eye can occur in either one or both of your eyes. Bloodshot eyes are fairly common when causing no pain, red eyes are often considered not to be serious. They can, however, be a sign of something serious especially when causing other symptoms such as:

  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Pain
  • Severe headaches
  • Blurry vision

What causes bloodshot eyes?

Red bloodshot eyes can either be painful or painless.  In most cases, the redness will often be accompanied by other symptoms such as itching, watery eyes, swelling eyelids among others. Some causes are serious while others are minor and can clear without treatment.

Common causes red eyes will include the following.

1. Allergies

Allergic reaction to drugs especially eye drops can cause your eyes to appear red, become itchy, irritated and have a burning sensation. This is because an allergic reaction causes the blood vessels appearing in eyes to dilate and become large hence more visible.

An eye allergy can also be shown by fluid accumulation inside eyes, swelling, and inflammation.  Allergies are considered serious and in some case, life threatening. Antihistamines are often used to treat allergies.  Urgent treatment for any form of allergy is recommended.

2. Eye injuries

Eye injuries such as sticking yourself with a mascara wand or roughly rubbing your eyes could sometimes result in redness.

Once you injure your eye, the blood vessel often enlarges increasing the flow of blood to that eye to heal and repair the damage. With minor injuries, the redness may clear within a day or two. For serious injuries, have an eye care professional look at it as soon as possible.

3. Too much exposure to the sun

Long exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun can also cause your eyes to become red. Ophthalmologist caution that too much exposure to the rays increases the risks of eye diseases such as cancer, cataract, and eye growths such as pterygium,

4. Dry eyes syndrome

This occurs when your tears are not able to provide adequate lubrication of your eyes. This can be as a result of not producing enough tears or producing poor quality tears.

You are likely to experience dry eyes when:

  • In an airplane
  • In an air-conditioned room
  • When cycling
  • After steering on a computer skin for long

5. Blepharitis

This is the inflammation of the eyelids. This condition occurs when tiny oil glands located near the e base of the eyelashes become clogged and blocked. This can lead to itchy, irritated and redness around eyes.

Blepharitis is often a symptom of other underlying medical conditions. It is considered a chronic condition that can be hard to treat.  The good news is that blepharitis doesn’t cause permanent damage to your eye or your eyesight.

The condition can cause:

  • Frequent blinking
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • A burning sensation
  • Sticky eyelids
  • Swollen eyelid
  • Watery eyes

6. Corneal ulcers

The cornea is the clear outer layer at the front of your eyeball. Ulcers occurring in this part of eyes can cause your eye to become red, sensitive to light and feel as though there something in it.

The bacterial corneal ulcers are most likely to occur in people who wear contact lenses.  On the other hand, those who often get cold sores or flu are most likely to develop viral corneal ulcers.

Antibiotic and antiviral medication can be used to treat bacterial and viral corneal ulcers respectively.

7. Acute glaucoma

Glaucoma is a medical condition in which the optic nerve that connects your eye to your brain becomes damaged. Acute glaucoma causes:

  • Painful red eyes
  • Cloudy or blurry vision
  • Halos around lights

8. Uveitis

Uveitis is the inflammation of the iris. This swelling may lead to:

  • Redness of eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision
  • Severe headaches

Steroid medications are often recommended to relieve the inflammation. Uveitis rare leads to severe complications.

9. Iritis

Iritis is the inflammation of the iris. It can occur in either one or both of your eyes. It often develops suddenly. The inflammation may be accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Red eyes
  • Itchy and irritated eye
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Blurry and decreased vision

Iritis may be caused by an eye injury, infections such as shingles, and medication side effect.

10. Keratitis

Keratitis is the inflammation of the cornea. The inflammation can be caused by an infection involving a bacteria, a virus, or a parasite. Noninfectious keratitis is caused by minor eye injuries, wearing contact lenses.

If left untreated, severe keratitis may result in permanent eyesight damage.

11. Episcleritis 

This is a benign inflammatory disease that affects the episclera, this is a thin layer of tissue that lies between the conjunctiva and the connective tissue that forms the sclera. This condition can be shown by the following symptoms:

  • Mild eye pain
  • Watery eyes
  • Bloodshot eyes

Red veins in eyes

Common causes of red veins in eyes are conjunctivitis and burst blood vessel. These two conditions do not affect your vision and will often clear on their own within a week or two.

12. Conjunctivitis

This condition causes the blood vessels in the eyes to swell making one or both of your eyes to look red and feel gritty.

Conjunctivitis can be caused by an infection, an allergy or an irritant such as chlorine (when swimming). Treating this condition often depends on what is causing it. In other cases, no treatment is required as it clear on its own.

With conjunctivitis, you will experience the following symptoms:

  • Itching
  • Watery eyes
  • Sticky coating on the eyelashes

13. Burst blood vessel or subconjunctival hemorrhage

Straining your eyes, from coughing on an eye injury can cause the blood vessels inside eyes to burst. This may result in bright red blotch.

A common cause of this is taking medication such as aspirin or warfarin. These medications are said to reduce the ability of the blood to clot. This could exaggerate redness in the eye, it is however not considered serious as it often clear on its own.

Bloodshot eyes alcohol

Bloodshot eyes are a common symptom in people who consume a lot of alcohol. Apart from harming other organs in the body, continued use of alcohol and tobacco smoking causes your red blood cells to brunch together causing redness in eyes and red complexion.

Alcohol causes vasodilation of the blood vessels inside eyes. This causes the vessels to become large and more visible. It may also cause your body to become dehydrated, causing your eyes to become red, itchy, inflamed and irritated.

Also smoking weed causes the blood vessels inside eyes to dilate, the increased flow of blood in the eyes is what causes your eyes to appear red. The redness could last for hours before going back to normal. In some cases, this may lead to serious complication such as permanent damage to the eyes.

A study by the national institute on alcohol abuse and alcoholism shows that the adverse effects of sleep deprivation are increased following alcohol consumption. The study found out that, alcohol consumed at bedtime, after an initial stimulating effect may decrease the time required to fall asleep. It is this lack of sleep that may lead to daytime fatigue and sleepiness.

Lack of sleep or insomnia prevents your eyes from getting the need fluid circulation. That is way sleepy eyes are often dry. Eye spasms is another symptom caused by dry eyes as a result of alcoholism.

Bloodshot eyes after eyelash extensions

Eyelash extensions are synthetic fibers applied to the natural eyelashes. This cosmetic procedure uses glue that contains formaldehyde, lead, and benzoic acid. The procedure has continued to gain popularity due to the relatively natural look and long lasting effect.

Eyelash extension, however, has been found to have the following complications:

  • Allergic blepharitis
  • Conjunctival erosion
  • Keratoconjunctivitis
  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage

To prevent these complications you need to lead a professional perform the procedure.

Bloodshot eyes symptoms

The symptoms accompanying red eyes will often vary depending on the underlying condition causing the redness.  During a medical examination or diagnosis, some symptoms shown may help identify the actual underlying cause.

With a red eye, you are likely to have some of the following symptoms:

How long one has the symptom will vary depending on the underlying cause. For instance, if the cause of the redness is an allergic reaction, the redness may clear once you identify and get rid of the allergen. For other causes such as conjunctivitis, with treatment, it might take up to a week or two to completely get rid of the redness.

Some conditions causing the redness need to be treated as soon as possible. Though some are minor and may often clear without treatment, other causes are considered serious and could lead to unwanted complications if treatment is not sorted in time.

Common complications with untreated eye redness would include:

  • permanent damage to the eye
  • loss of vision or blindness
  • ulceration and scarring of the eyes
  • spreading the infection to another part of your body or infecting other people

One bloodshot eye no pain

In most cases, redness of the eye is often not accompanied by symptoms such as pain, itching, irritation or significant discomfort. In such cases, the condition is often considered minor, and will often clear without treatment.  Conjunctivitis and burst blood vessel in the eye are common causes of a painless red eye.

If however, you have one bloodshot eye with no pain that fails to clear within a day, you may want to have it checked out by your health care provider as soon as possible.

When a red eye is accompanied by pain and discomfort, it could be a sign of something more serious. Acute glaucoma characterized by a sudden buildup of pressure inside the eye is one such condition. The pressure on vital organs of the eye could lead to serious vision problems or blindness when not treated in time.

In people who wear contact lenses, the pain could be a result of corneal ulcers. The ulcers are typically caused by an infection especially with the herpes simplex virus. Apart from the pain, they could make you sensitive to light.

How to treat red eyes

Treating red bloodshot eyes will often vary depending on the underlying cause.  Before prescribing the most appropriate treatment option, you doctor will have to perform some medical examination to identify the actual underlying cause after which the right treatment may be prescribed.

Urgent medical attention is required when:

  • there are sudden vision changes
  • there is increased sensitivity to light
  • the redness is accompanied by a severe headache, eyes pain and fever
  • you experience nausea or vomiting
  • swelling around eyes, and eyelids

Home remedies for red eye

At home, you need to try as much as possible to rest your eyes. Depending on what the cause is, you may also need to see a professional health care provider as soon as possible.

If the redness is associated with alcohol or smoking weed, you need to drink plenty of water to remain hydrated.  This will help reduce the redness.

At home, simple remedy like placing a cold compress (ice compress) around eyes can help relieve the inflammation of the blood vessels thus help to reduce the redness.

A warm compress can also come in handy especially if the bloodshot eye is causing you lack of sleep.

Over the counter, eye drops and artificial tears can help in cases of dry red eyes. If you are not sure of what product to use, you can have a professional eye care professional prescribe one for you.

Apply 1% hydrocortisone cream on your eyelids and under- eye skin to reduce puffiness and inflammation.

How to reduce bloodshot eye, preventing eye redness  

Can you reduce bloodshot eye? Redness of the eyes will often indicate the presences of several health conditions. While some of these conditions are benign and considered harmless, others are serious and could result in serious complications if not treated in time.

To reduce the redness in eyes, one has to first identify what the underlying cause is. For minor cases, managing them can help reduce the redness. For serious causes, proper and urgent medical treatment may be required to treat the said condition and reduce the redness in the eye.

You could do the following to prevent and manage bloodshot eyes:

  • There are some over the counter eye drops you can use to reduce bloodshot eyes. This will, however, depend on what the underlying cause is. If you are not sure, you can have a professional healthcare provider prescribe one for you.
  • Keep your face clean, avoid touching or rubbing your eyes with dirty hands. If you to do it, make sure to clean your hands with soap and warm water
  • Be careful on the cosmetic products you use on your eyes.
  • Schedule regular check up with your health care provider. you should not ignore a red eye
  • You can prevent allergens such as a dust and pollen. If you have to work in such an environment, make sure you cover your eyes
  • Avoid direct contact with a person suffering from conjunctivitis
  • Before going to bed, make sure you get rid of makeup from your face
  • For those wearing contact lenses, you need to make sure you clean them regularly and only wear them if recommended
  • You need to avoid or minimize activities that cause eye strain
  • Run a humidifier, this helps add moisture to the air to ensure your eyes stay hydrated
  • Cut down on alcohol and smoking
  • Drink plenty of water daily to make sure your body is always hydrated. This can prevent dry eyes.


  1. Red eyes, meaning causes and treatment: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/red-eye/Pages/Introduction.aspx
  2. What causes eye redness: http://www.healthline.com/symptom/eye-redness
  3. Redness of the eye: https://www.centreforsight.com/eye-conditions/eye-symptoms/redness
  4. Causes and how to treat red, bloodshot eyes: http://www.eyehealthweb.com/red-bloodshot-eyes/
  5. Causes and symptoms of red eye: http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/red-eye/basics/causes/sym-20050748http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/red-eye/basics/causes/sym-20050748
  6. Complications of having a red eye: http://www.eyehealthweb.com/red-bloodshot-eyes/
  7. The connection between alcohol, sleep, and red eyes: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa41.htm
  8. Eyelash extension: http://eyewiki.aao.org/Eyelash_Extensions

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