Medical Q&As

Conjunctivitis - causes?

My eyes seem to get bloodshot fairly often. Could you tell me what might be causing this?

By bloodshot I assume you mean that the tiny blood vessels on the white of your eyes are more noticeable. This condition is generally referred to as conjunctivitis, which means inflammation of the conjunctiva or membrane that covers the surface of the eyeball and inner surface of the eyelids. Bacterial infection is a common cause of conjunctivitis and this is easily remedied with antibiotic drops and ointment. Sometimes conjunctivitis can occur as a result of allergy. A typical example of such allergy is hay fever, which often results in inflamed eyes once the sensitised person is exposed to grass pollen. Sometimes the eyes become bloodshot because of irritation from dusts and fumes. Exposure to cigarette smoke will often cause irritation of the conjunctiva because smoke consists of very fine dust particles that can settle on the front of the eye. People with sparse eyelashes are more prone to developing irritation of the conjunctiva. The eyelashes offer a form of physical shield to the eye through the act of blinking. If fewer hairs are present it is easier for particles to land on the conjunctiva. It is also possible that you might have dry eyes, which means that the tear sac is not producing sufficient amounts of tears thereby resulting in insufficient lubrication of the inner surface of the eyelids during the act of blinking. Since you are experiencing this discomfort on a regular basis it would be appropriate to attend your doctor for an assessment.