Although common, red eye is a problem that can be very annoying. If your eyes are red, itchy, and dry, learn how to treat them quickly and change the habits that could be causing them. If you experience chronic pink eye or other symptoms that indicate a serious illness, you should seek medical attention to treat it.
Method 1 of 3: Overcoming Red Eyes
Step 1. Let the eyes rest
The best treatment for some of the common causes of red eye such as scratching of the cornea, lack of sleep, tiredness from working with computers, too much sun exposure, and long trips, is rest. Get more sleep and use less computers, TV, books, and cell phones. Instead, try listening to the radio or audiobooks. Even if you can't give your eyes time to rest all day, be sure to let them rest often.
- If you're reading or working on a computer, it's a good idea to stop every 15 minutes and stare at a distant object for at least 30 seconds. This change in focal point will help relax the eye muscles.
- Also, try letting your eyes rest for 15 minutes every 2 hours. Try going for a walk, exercising, having a snack, or calling someone. Do anything as long as you're not staring at a computer or phone screen.
Step 2. Use eye drops or artificial tears
To relieve your occasional red eye, you can use eye drops or artificial tears. This drug is available in all pharmacies and costs only about a few tens of thousands of rupiah. These eye drops can lubricate and clean the eye thereby reducing irritation and redness. These eye drops are available in 4 options:
- Eye drops containing preservatives. Preservatives such as benzalkonium chloride, oliexetonium, polyhexamethylene biguanide, polyquad, purite, and sodium perborate (GenAqua) can prevent bacterial growth. However, if you have sensitive eyes or need to use eye drops long term, you should avoid preservatives.
- Eye drops without preservatives. Systane, GenTeal, Refresh, Thera Tears, and Bausch and Lomb, among others, are some examples of products that sell preservative-free eye drops.
- Eye drops for contact lenses. If you wear contact lenses, look for eye drops specially formulated for contact lenses.
- Whitening eye drops/red eye drops. Do not use whitening eye drops such as Visine, Clear Eyes, and All Clear. Eye drops like this over time can make red eyes worse.
Step 3. Consider using an eye gel for extreme dry eyes
Gels and ointments have a thicker consistency so they last longer than eye drops. However, gels and ointments can blur your vision for a while. Therefore, this product is best used at night right before bed as well as to prevent your eyes from drying out overnight.
- Be sure to apply a warm compress or wipe your eyelids with a mild soap before applying the gel or lotion. That way, the ducts and glands in the eye will not be blocked.
- Do not use the gel or ointment if your doctor has diagnosed you with meibomian gland disease.
Step 4. Use allergy medication
Seasonal allergies, allergies to pets, and allergies to the environment can all cause pink eye. Allergies are usually accompanied by other symptoms such as itching and sores, and are usually most severe in the morning. There are two reasons, namely, prolonged exposure to allergens while you sleep in a contaminated house, and pollen that is a lot of flying around in the morning that exacerbates seasonal allergies. To treat allergies:
- Try taking an oral antihistamine such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), desloratadine (Clarinex), fexofenadine (Allegra), levocetirizine (Xyzal), or loratadine (Claritin).
- Use eye drops that contain an antihistamine or anti-inflammatory such as azelastin (Optivar), emedastin (Emadine), ketotifen (Alaway, Zaditor), or olopatadin (Pataday, Patanol).
- Keep windows closed during allergy season to reduce your chances of exposure to pollen.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom, especially your bed.
- Try using an air purifier at home that can reduce allergens.
Step 5. Try rinsing your eyes
Rinsing your eyes can help wash away the irritants that cause pink eye. In addition, rinsing the eyes can also moisturize and soothe the eyes. You can rinse your eyes with lukewarm water by running it through your eyes, pouring it into a special eye cup, or pouring water into your shower and letting it run through your eyes (but don't spray the water directly into your eyes). To further soothe the eyes, make a special solution:
- Bring a cup of distilled water to a boil.
- Add a tablespoon of eyebright tea, chamomile flowers, or crushed fennel seeds.
- Remove the pan from the stove, cover, and let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Strain the liquid with a coffee filter and put it in a sterile container.
- Store this solution for a maximum of 7 days in the refrigerator.
Step 6. Apply warm compresses to the eyelids
Inflammation of the eyelids can block the flow of moisturizing oil into the eye. This warm compress can help open the blockage in the eye oil gland ducts. Wet a clean, dry washcloth with warm water then wring it out. After that, fold the washcloth in half and place it over your closed eyes. Rest while compressing the eye for 5-10 minutes.
Step 7. Let your eyes rest while applying a cool, damp teabag to it
Green tea and chamomile tea both contain chemicals that can soothe irritated skin, reduce inflammation, and unblock oil gland ducts. Brew two tea bags and then place them in the fridge to cool. After that, stick it to both closed eyes for 5 minutes.
Method 2 of 3: Addressing the Cause
Step 1. Make sure there is no foreign object in the eye
Even small dust particles can cause irritation if trapped in the eye. Do not immediately scratch the eye if it itches because it can cause scratches on the cornea. Better yet, wash your eyes. Try putting eye drops or saline in your eye and blinking quickly. To wash the eyes more effectively:
- Use clean hands to open your eyes under a stream of lukewarm water.
- Let the shower water pass over your forehead and open your eyes as the water streams over your face. Or wash your eyes in an eye wash or use a special eye cup.
- If you have a foreign object in your eye, you may have difficulty opening and closing your eyelids.
Step 2. Get 8 hours of sleep every night
Lack of sleep is a common cause of red eye. If you also feel tired and sluggish throughout the day, your red eyes may be due to a lack of sleep. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night. However, some people may need to sleep longer or less to be able to function optimally.
Step 3. Let your eyes rest from the TV or computer screen
Even if you get enough sleep, your eyes can still experience fatigue from spending too much time staring at a TV or computer screen. The reason is because the eyes blink less often while staring at the screen and are forced to focus at the same distance for hours until finally experiencing fatigue. Therefore, give your eyes 15 minutes of rest every 2 hours and 30 seconds of rest every 15 minutes.
- When you rest your eyes long enough, try taking a short walk and focusing on objects in the distance. Or, sleep for 15 minutes before continuing your busy life.
- When taking a short break, look up and away from the computer screen for 30 seconds and focus on an object in the distance, such as a tree behind a window or a painting across the room.
Step 4. Put on the sunglasses
Some studies show that exposure to the sun or wind can cause red eye. If you wear protective sunglasses while outside, your eyes will be protected from wind and irritating UV rays. Choose sunglasses that are tight and can provide 99-100% protection from UVA and UVB rays.
Wearing sunglasses is very good for eye health in old age. Excessive sun exposure can cause problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts in old age
Step 5. Wear and care for contact lenses properly
Contact lenses can sometimes also cause red eyes associated with infection, lack of oxygen, or irritation.
- Before putting on contact lenses, put a few drops of saline or lubricant in the eye and blink a few times. These eye drops will clean the surface of the eye so that no irritants are trapped behind the contact lenses.
- Dirty, torn, or bent contact lenses can cause eye irritation and infection. Follow the contact lens cleaning instructions given by your ophthalmologist. If you choose disposable contact lenses, never wear them more than once.
- Do not fall asleep while still wearing contact lenses.
- Avoid wearing contact lenses when swimming and bathing.
Step 6. Quit smoking and avoid smoky environments
Smoke is a common cause of pink eye. If you smoke, make every effort to quit and stay away from other people who smoke around you. In addition to reducing red eyes, quitting smoking also has many other benefits for your health.
Step 7. Do not overuse whitening eye drops
While moisturizing eye drops are quite effective at treating red eyes, products specially formulated to whiten the eyes can actually make this problem worse. Products like these contain a vasoconstrictor, a chemical that can narrow the blood vessels on the surface of the eye. If used in excess, your body will gradually become immune to the effects of this drug. As a result, your eyes will grow red when the effects of the drug wear off. Eye drops containing vasoconstrictors, among others, Clear Eyes, Visine, and All Clear. Chemicals you should avoid include:
- Ephedrine hydrochloride
- Nafazoline hydrochloride
- Phenylephrine hydrochloride
- Tetrahydrozoline hydrochloride
Method 3 of 3: Seeking Medical Help
Step 1. Seek immediate medical attention for serious symptoms
Red eyes accompanied by other serious symptoms may indicate a serious illness, such as a stroke or neurological disorder. Visit the emergency department or call 118 if:
- Your eyes are red from the injury.
- You have a headache with blurred vision and confusion.
- You see a beam of light surrounding the lamp.
- You feel nauseous and/or vomit.
Step 2. See a doctor if the pink eye doesn't improve for more than 2 days
If your eyes are still red after using the above treatments, or if you are taking blood thinning medications, or if your red eyes are accompanied by pain, visual disturbances, or discharge from your eyes, you should see a doctor. Diseases that commonly cause pink eye include:
- Conjunctivitis, an infection of the transparent membrane that protects the eye. This disease can be treated with antibiotics and/or topical antihistamines.
- Chronic dry eye occurs when the eye is unable to produce enough tears for lubrication. This disease can be treated with punctual plugs (closing small holes in the eyelids to retain moisture), the use of eye drops, and medications.
- Red eyes due to diabetes. High blood sugar levels due to diabetes can damage the small blood vessels in the eyes, causing red eyes. If you have diabetes, be sure to have your eyes checked regularly. If left untreated, diabetes can lead to vision loss.
- Vasculitis occurs when the immune system attacks blood vessels. This disease can be treated with the use of steroids and other drugs to reduce inflammation.
- Glaucoma, an increase in eye pressure that can lead to blindness. Glaucoma is usually treated with eye drops that can reduce eye pressure.
- Keratitis, inflammation of the cornea that can be caused by wearing contact lenses for too long or a minor injury. This disease can also be accompanied by a bacterial infection.
Step 3. Visit an optometrist if the red eye doesn't go away
Pink eye that doesn't go away and doesn't respond to medical treatment is often caused by strain on the eye from an inaccurate lens prescription or the need to wear bifocals.
- Prescription lenses that are too strong will force the eye muscles to work constantly to focus on objects, resulting in eye strain and redness. It is better to wear a lens that is too weak than too strong.
- If you have to hold your face close to your computer screen to see clearly, you may need a bifocal lens to clearly see objects at various points of focus.