10 Ways to Make Your Eyes Brighter and Whiter Without a Prescription

Updated 09/06/18

The worst thing about waking up with red, bloodshot eyes isn't the fact that they instantly make you look sick and/or hungover. It's that usually they're accompanied by itching (if it's allergies or irritation) or a headache (if you maybe had too much wine the night before). Basically, having red, bloodshot eyes is not fun. 

We spoke to Andrew Iwach, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, to see how to prevent and deal with red eyes. If your symptoms are unusual or they last for longer than a few days, Iwach says to contact your ophthalmologist. But for non-serious cases, you usually can get rid of red eyes without a trip to the doctor. Here, 10 home remedies for red eyes.

Home remedies for red eyes

Try a Warm Sock Compress

Hysteria by Happy Socks Polly Ankle Socks $18

Specifically, a sock filled with uncooked rice that's been microwaved. Sounds weird, but it's an effective option according to Iwach. This works because it provides gentle heat over a longer period of time than, say, a warm washcloth, Iwach explains. "Heat actually helps the oil go through the glands," he says, which helps reduce irritation.  

Take a Break From Your Smartphone

Light from screen bothers eyes
Ben Kolde/Unsplash

When you don't blink enough, your eyes aren't properly lubricated, which can cause redness. If you spend a lot of time on your phone or computer, try taking "blink breaks" every few minutes to keep the moisture balance of your eyes intact.

Take Breaks From Wearing Makeup

Makeup irritating eyes
Septian Simon /Unsplash

Unfortunately, your makeup could be causing your red eyes. And Iwach doesn't just mean makeup like eyeliner and mascara. Even your face powder could be a culprit. He recommends going makeup-free for at least a couple of days a week and making a note of how your eyes look and feel to see if your makeup is making your eyes red.

Make Sure Your Eyes Are Totally Clean

Micellar Water
Burt's Bees Micellar Water $12

Iwach notes that you should definitely make a point to clean the base of your lashes, as this can be where irritants congregate. Iwach explains that there are oil glands along the margins of your eyes. Sometimes this oil accumulates and basically acts like flypaper for irritants (not just makeup) that cause red eyes.

Use a Cold Washcloth

Ugg Classic Luxe Wash Towel
Ugg Classic Luxe Wash Towel $19

Iwach says that, generally, applying cold to your eyes can help reduce inflammation and redness and make your eyeballs feel better.

Apply Cucumber Slices

How to fix red eyes
Unsplash/ Adrian Motroc

Iwach says that this works in a similar way to the cool washcloth. Just make sure your cucumber slices are straight from the fridge for maximum relief.

Stay Hydrated

S'Well Milky Way Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
S'well Milky Way Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle $45

Dehydration can cause your eyes to become bloodshot. The solution is obvious: Stay hydrated. Here's exactly how much water you should drink in a day.

Use Artificial Tears

Visine Eye Drops $2

The most obvious—and probably least time-consuming—option is to use artificial tears. Iwach calls them the safest, simplest solution for irritated eyes because they can help flush irritants out of your eyes and also help with dry eyes.

Don't Sit Under the AC

Air conditioning bothers eyes

Iwach says to make a note of where you sit in your office or in your home. Are you near a fan? A vent? If you notice you have red, irritated eyes, it could be from the air blowing in your face.

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