Many patients use Visine to “get the red out” of bloodshot eyes. Is that a good idea?

First, a little background. The eyes become red when blood vessels dilate to fight the source of irritation — whether wind, infection, allergy, dryness, smoke, crying, inflammation, alcohol, anything really.

Visine and similar medicated drops contain a “vasoconstrictor” chemical that shrinks the blood vessels that cause “rednesss,” for about 45 minutes.

Such products mask the symptoms of irritation, but don’t address the cause. In fact, prolonged use may even increase redness –a situation called “rebound hyperemia.” The more you use them, the more you need them.

Dr. TRACY’S TIP:

There’s no harm in using Visine or similar products sparingly — say, for a photo shoot, an important meeting or public appearance.

But please don’t use them on a regular basis.

If red eyes are a reoccurring problem, I’d prefer to see you to diagnose and eliminate the cause — whether it be lubricants for dry or irritated eyes, antibiotics for infection, steroids for inflammation, or other solutions.

Oh, and one more tip — applying a cold washcloth to your eyes for 30 minutes will shrink swollen blood vessels significantly. A chemical-free and relaxing technique!