Daily Health Tips: Why Are My Eyes Dull And Bloodshot?

Q: Good day Dr Ketch, please i just want to ask a quick question. What can i do to get the white (sclera) part of my eyes really white and healthy? I eat healthy and drink fluids and have no underlying health issues yet I have dull looking eyes with red vein. Please is there a drug or good eye drop apart from V-s–e? I can use or is it advisable to go for an eye wash? Please your help is needed. Thanks…More blessing DR. You are wonderful

A: Thanks for writing in.

Dull looking eyes redness may be due to tiredness. As people get older, the whites of their eyes (sclera) also turn brownish due to years of exposure to wind, dust and the sun. Tiredness? That can also lead you here 😀

A red eye can give you cause for serious concern especially if it happens when you can’t really attribute any event/trauma to it…and then it’s also not painful. What on earth could it be?! 😀

Usually, the white of the eye (sclera) is covered by a transparent membrane with a rich blood supply, called the conjunctiva.

  • This membrane can be infected/ irritated or blood vessels under it can burst leading to painless red eyes. Irritation of the conjunctiva (conjunctivitis) could be due to an infection, allergy, chlorine (remember those blood shot eyes after swimming? :D), dust etc.

Conjunctivitis due to viruses tends to affect one eye first and then spread to the other eye…helped along by people rubbing their red eyes and then touching the other eye. Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria can usually be recognized by the presence of sticky eye discharge which crusts around the edges of the eye. Conjunctivitis caused by allergies usually affect both eyes and causes significant itching.

  • A burst blood vessel causes a condition known as sub-conjunctivial haemorrhage (this simply means bleeding under the conjunctiva). This can be caused by coughing or straining.
  • Eye strain from prolonged staring at a computer screen or screen of digital devices, straining to see in poor light or being exposed to bright lights, being stressed, being exposed to dry moving air from a fan or air conditioner can also be associated with red eyes (blood shot eyes).
  • Using eye drops that contain vasoconstrictors (eg tetrahydrozoline or naphazoline) like the one you mentioned in your question can lead to an initial reduction of redness but is quickly followed by increase in redness. The substances contained in these eye drops cause shrinkage of the outer blood vessels in the white of the eye depriving the eye of essential nutrients and oxygen. When their effects wear off or the person stops using the eye drops, the vessels quickly dilate (enlarge) as the tissues that have been deprived oxygen and nutrients quickly signal for a supply. So, the vessels become more prominent as they swell and their redness becomes more pronounced. For this effect to stop, the use of the eye drop must be stopped. Prolonged use may lead to a situation where the eyes need this eye drop to stay white.

Treatment of conjunctivitis may involve the use of eye drops. Remember not to prescribe them for yourself…that’s what your doctor is there for 😀

Other measures include placing cool face towels or flannels to the eye to soothe it, not sharing towels, pillows/pillowcases, staying away from make-up at this time (I feel you, girlfriend! Imagine going out without putting your face on! Whaaat!!!!), staying of contacts, if you use them and don’t forget to keep your hands off your face.
Burst blood vessels would usually resolve on their own.

Burst vessels usually require no treatment and resolve within 7 to 14 days.

Now, if you develop pain or find that your vision is affected, please see your doctor. It could be any number of issues including glaucoma, sty (a small lump/boil at the edge of the eye lid), foreign body in the eye etc.

So, be sure to see your doctor so he can make a diagnosis of your condition and I’m sure you’ll be bright eyed in no time!

In the meantime, eat right for your eyes:

  • Fruits: Oranges, mangos, tangerines (in season now), pawpaw, avocado etc
  • Vegetables: Carrots, spinach, carrots, peppers
  • Source of Omega-3 fatty acids: canola oil, salmon, tuna, mackerel etc
  • Sources of zinc: beans, pumpkin (egusi) seeds, lean beef, fortified breakfast cereals etc

I hope this helps

Have a good night 😀

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