Waking up to red, bloodshot eyes can leave you scrambling for a way to get rid of them, but before you head to the pharmacy, why not give some natural remedies a try? Check out some of the most effective natural treatments for red eyes below, and learn how to prevent them from reoccurring.
How to get rid of red eyes without eye drops
Red eyes can be caused by a variety of things, from exhaustion to an infection. Treating them does depend on what the cause of the redness is, so if you feel it may be something more serious than just a lack of sleep or exposure to allergens, you should check with your doctor and discuss which treatment options are best for you. However, if the red, bloodshot appearance is because of minor irritation, you can try some of these natural remedies.
Short-term solutions for red eyes
Depending on the specific cause of your red eyes, a short-term remedy may be just what you need to ease discomfort.
Warm compress: Heat helps to increase blood flow to the affected area and can even help increase oil production of your eyelids, allowing your eyes to create more lubrication.
How to: Simply soak a towel in warm water, writing it out, and placing on the eyes for about 10 minutes. It is important to keep the water at a sensible temperature as to not hurt yourself.
Cold compress: Cold water can help relieve swelling and irritation. The cooling sensation can also relieve discomfort caused by histamine release commonly caused when your body contracts due to allergies.
How to: Splash your face with cold water to bring down any initial irritation, then wrap some ice cubes in a clean towel and lay it over your eyes.
Home remedies for red eyes
Fennel seeds: Fennel has been found to help treat and prevent glaucoma, as it decreases pressure in the eyes and aids in blood vessel dilation.
How to: Ease your red eyes by adding half a teaspoon of fennel seeds to one cup of boiling water and leaving it to cool completely. Strain the seeds from the solution, then use the now cool liquid to rinse your eyes.
Chamomile: If your red eyes are caused by allergies, the anti-inflammatory properties found in chamomile can help soothe the irritation and get rid of the redness.
How to: Add one teaspoon of chamomile flowers to one cup of water and boil. Let the mixture cool, then strain the flowers out. Use the remaining liquid as an eye wash to bring down and soothe the inflammation.
Warm milk and honey: Milk contains folic acid and may other vitamins. Honey also has strong antibacterial properties. Together milk and honey can be an amazing remedy for treating red eyes
How to: Mix half a cup of honey into half a cup of warm milk, then dip a clean cloth into the mixture. Use the now damp cloth as a compress, holding it gently against your eyes for approximately 20 minutes to soothe any irritation causing redness.
Cucumber slices: Providing a cooling sensation to the eyes help to constrict blood vessels and reduce the appearance of red eyes. Cucumbers also have anti-irritant properties that can help reduce inflammation, swelling, and irritation.
How to: Cut two thin slices of cucumber and place them over your closed eyes for approximately ten minutes. For best results, keep the cucumber in the fridge beforehand so that it is even cooler and can better reduce the redness and inflammation.
Rose water: Possesses anti-bacterial and antiseptic agents helping to protect from pollutants, redness, dust, inflammation of the eye, as well as harmful ingredients that may be found in commonly used beauty products.
How to: Store your rose water in the fridge, and when you experience red, bloodshot eyes, you will have an easy remedy on hand. Simply dip a cotton ball in the cool rose water and place it on your closed eyes to soothe away the redness.
Potatoes: Having strong astringent properties, potatoes can help reduce the appearance of soreness of the eyelids
How to: Grate a potato into a pulpy texture and apply this to your eyelids. Leave it on for approximately 15 minutes and the astringent properties of the vegetable will help ease any soreness. After about three days of this treatment, you will notice a reduction in the redness and irritation.
Tea bags: Containing properties that reduce inflammation and soreness, such as tannin and bioflavonoids, tea bags can be an effective way to treat red eyes.
How to: Steep the tea bags in hot water, then put them in the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes. Once they are cool to the touch, place them over your eyelids for relief from your red eyes.
Cold spoons: The effectiveness of applying cold temperatures to the skin will allow blood vessels to constrict, decreasing redness, swelling, and irritation.
How to: Place a clean, metal spoon into a glass of ice water to chill it. Then, dry the spoon and place it against your eyelid. The cold temperature can increase blood flow while decreasing redness.
Apple cider vinegar: A commonly used ingredient, apple cider vinegar can also protect against bacterial infections.
How to: Create a soothing, anti-bacterial solution for your eyes by combining one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with one cup of water. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and apply it to your eyelids.
Lifestyle changes to treat red eyes
Some individuals suffer from red eyes more than the average person. This often means that there is some kind of irritant or unrecognized factor that is contributing to its development that may require thinking beyond simply a quick fix. The following are some lifestyle changes that may help relieve long-term red-eye condition, however, it is recommended to see a doctor if the problem continues.
- Switch contacts: Contact lenses wearers have to be especially vigilant when choosing to wear them as they come in contact with the eyes on a daily basis. This increases the chances of infection and irritation. It is possible your eyes may find your particular brand of lenses irritating or that the contact solution you are using is not the best quality. Speaking to your doctor will help you find out if these factors are causing your red eye development.
- Diet: Many research studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation—foods that have abundant amounts include salmon, flax seed, and various types of nuts, just to name a few. Incorporating these types of foods into your diet can help reduce inflammation. Also, being aware of inflammatory foods, such as processed foods, dairy products, and fast foods, can be a great way to limit inflammation in the body.
- Know your surroundings: It is a good idea to avoid areas you know will cause eye irritation. These include areas with excessive smoke and pollen.
Bloodshot red eyes prevention tips
The best treatment for red, bloodshot eyes is to prevent their occurrence in the first place. Time spent staring at computer and phone screens can harm your eyes and cause redness, so do your best to limit the time you spend in front of these devices. If you work on a computer, make sure you take breaks to give your eyes a rest. Drinking and smoking can also aggravate your eyes and cause redness, so avoiding these habits is a good way to prevent your eyes from turning red. Drinking lots of water to prevent dehydration can also help prevent eye redness, as well as getting a good night’s sleep.
While red, bloodshot eyes may be caused by a variety of ailments from allergies to infections, there are plenty of natural methods available to soothe them. Next time your allergies flare up, try using cucumber slices or cold spoons to bring down the puffiness and irritation.
Related: Conjunctivitis (pink eye): Causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention