Reducing Redness: Helpful or Harmful?

If you’ve ever struggled with allergies, digital eye strain or tired eyes, you’ve likely dealt with the red, bloodshot eyes that can come with it. In recent years, whitening eye drops have risen in popularity for alleviating red and tired looking eyes. But, are they actually recommended to use?

The cause of redness in the eyes comes from the blood vessels expanding when they’re irritated. Eye drops made to combat this redness are usually made from a decongestant that temporarily minimizes the blood vessels’ swelling. Other types include lubricants to reduce dryness that can lead to irritation.

Though they are safe to use, doctors encourage using them sparingly, if at all. Most eye whitening drops contain preservatives that can be harmful to the eye’s surface if used too often. They may come in handy for an important event or occasion, but using them consistently won’t do your eyes any favors in the long-run.

Additionally, this seemingly quick-fix may actually lead to more redness later on. This is referred to as “rebound redness.” After drops containing decongestants wear off, the blood vessels reopen and can become larger than before – ultimately causing more redness than you originally experienced. 

As an alternative, eye doctors recommend preservative-free lubricating eye drops, commonly known as artificial tears. If you find that the redness is persistent for an extended period, be sure to see your eye care provider. They can help determine the cause and best treatment for your eyes.

The information contained above is intended to be educational in nature, does not constitute medical advice, and should not be relied on as a substitute for actual professional medical advice, care or treatment. If you have any vision, dental or other health related concerns, VBA encourages you to immediately contact your optometrist/ophthalmologist, dentist/orthodontist or any other competent, licensed, medical professional.