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What Can Be Done About Red Veins on the Whites of the Eyes?

Do any of the following comments hit home with you:

“Hi, I am an 18 year old female who has recently noticed unsightly red veins on my eyes.”

“I have always had large blood vessels in both eyes. It is very embarrassing and I often don't like to look at people in the eye so I try to look away and not directly at them.”

“My eyes are ALWAYS bloodshot and red rimmed. From the time I wake up in the morning until I go to bed.”

No matter what the cause, having permanently enlarged red veins on the whites of your eyes can really take a toll on a person’s self esteem. Perhaps you’ve started avoiding making eye contact with other people, or else you may be passing up social situations that put you in close face-to-face contact with other people. If you are someone who is bothered by this particular cosmetic eye issue, please know that you are not alone.


The Causes of Enlarged Veins on Eyes

It is important to note that this article is not dealing with temporarily bloodshot eyes that can be relieved by the use of eye drops or by simply getting some rest. Rather, it is about the issue of permanent red veins that have appeared on the white part of the eyes. According to various eye doctors, these veins develop for several reasons, including:

  1. Prolonged and untreated dry eye syndrome.
  2. Overuse of eye drops that are vasoconstrictors (i.e., Visine, Clear Eyes, All Clear, etc.). A vasoconstrictor is a substance that reduces the redness in the eyes by narrowing the blood vessels. However, overusing products containing this substance can result in “rebound redness”. This means that when you stop using the product your veins will come back even larger and redder than before.
  3. Overexposure to sunlight without wearing proper eye protection.
  4. Staring at a computer screen for hours a day without stopping to take breaks or without blinking sufficiently in order to keep the eyes moistened.

Treatment Options

The first thing you will want to do is visit an eye doctor in order to rule out allergies or dry eyes as the cause. If you have allergies, the eye doctor will most likely prescribe an antihistamine-containing eye drop and perhaps even a steroid that will control the inflammation. I was prescribed Alrex to help stop the constant burning and stinging feeling in my eyes that I could not control by any other means.

If, on the other hand, you have dry eyes, you may be prescribed a product such as Restasis. I had a combination of allergies and dry eyes, so eventually my eye doctor switched me to Restasis and also inserted punctal plugs in my tear ducts. A punctal plug is a small plastic device that is inserted into the tear duct (puncta) of an eye to block the duct. Doing so, prevents natural and artificial tears from draining away from the eyes.

I used Restasis for about one year and just discontinued treatment about 3 months ago and am glad to say the dry eye condition is still under control. Dr. Michael J. Kutryb, M.D. also recommends the following for red dry eyes:

  1. Taking supplements containing flaxseed oil
  2. Using lubricating eyedrops such as Systane or Genteal

He also recommends saving the use of vasoconstrictors like Visine for special occasions only, such as a job interview or a date, and using these products no more than 2 or 3 times a week so as to avoid the rebound redness effect discussed above. I found many other other great suggestions for dealing with and treating my dry eyes at DryEyeZone.

Extreme Treatment for Bloodshot Eyes

Making sure your eyes are as moist and healthy as possible is the first line of defense. But what if you’ve followed all the advice above and the veins on your eyes are still unbearably unsightly to you? Then you might consider a surgical procedure that can actually remove the veins from the whites of the eyes. Note, however, that this is not a cheap option and can cost anywhere between $3,000 to $5,000 per eye.

As far as I know, there are only two doctors in the United States currently providing this eye whitening surgery:

  1. Dr. Shawn R. Klein of New Jersey has created a procedure called IsoWhite™. This is a same-day procedure that creates a whiter, brighter appearance on the white part of your eyes. Dr. Klein modifies and removes the thin membrane (conjunctiva) which in some people can contain overly prominent veins or discoloration with yellow, gray or brown spots. The surgery is stitchless, painless, and takes about 15-20 minutes per eye.
  2. Dr. Boxer Wachler in Los Angeles, California created a procedure known as I-Brite which also involves removing the thin membrane that holds most of the unsightly red veins and yellow or brown material. After removal, a crystal clear membrane (without red blood vessels, yellow or brown spots) grows back in its place.
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As for me, I have stopped just short of surgery to deal with the enlarged red veins on my eyes. But believe me, there are still days when I seriously consider it. There are a lot of people who may think this is a ridiculous thing to be so focused on. But I personally know how distressing it can be to look in the mirror and not have your eyes looking their whitest and healthiest. If you suffer from enlarged red veins on the whites of your eyes, I wish you the best in whatever remedy you choose to follow.

UPDATE 9/21/13:

Since I first wrote this article, I am finally starting to come across a handful of individuals who have had an eye whitening surgical procedure and are starting to share their experience and photos online. You can browse YouTube for several other testimonial videos from other patients of Dr. Wachler (mentioned above). I am definitely giving the surgery serious thought now that I feel more encouraged at seeing the positive results others are having so far. If you have gone through with either of the surgical procedures, please share your experience with all of us - whether good or bad - in the comment section below. Thank you!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Ben on June 20, 2019:

I dont understand how red veins on eye are permanent, should there be any eye issue causing it. If there is an eye problem such as dry eye , why dont the red veins go away if the problem that caused is resolved.

Raj on May 24, 2019:

I have also the had the same red eye problem for 4 years now. And have some really prominent blood vessels in the sclera that show even when visine is used. I have stopped using visine and had started using optrex eye drops with witch hazel as the active ingredient and this really helps my red eyes. It doesnt make it white bit definitely makes it less red than not using anything at all. Plus it is not harmful in the long run

so its good for me.

Christine on February 04, 2019:

Did anyone else have luck with hylauronic acid? I started taking a supplement about

five days ago. No changes so far.

Christine on January 29, 2019:

Has anyone found something that works for permanent red veins? I have developed 2 in my right eye. I know I shouldn't dwell on it, but it makes me feel so unattractive...

Andy on December 12, 2018:

Please don’t do this surgery. It will ruin your eyes and turn them turn into an old persons eyes. I had it done over 5+ years now and my eyes are worse then they have ever been. I had to do additional surgeries because of ibrite aka whitereyes surgery with Dr Boxer Wachler. You think you have it bad now? If you do this surgery you will wish you have it like you do now. Please don’t do it

hayley on February 14, 2018:

Hi im 20 y/o and i suffer from veiny eyes too. Plus yellow eyes, i already visited two doctors now and they only gave me drops. im losing my self confidence bec. of my eyes since im gonna be working soon.

Marko on September 09, 2017:

Hey there, sry for simple language im from lebanon ,actually im glad i found a place to share such issue ,and same time i feel sad for all who suffer the same! Im 26 y guy suffer from eye redness almost 8 years No one understand how uncomfortable it is especially when meeting others, the funny part is that two of the my doctors said i got healthy eyes nd no problems only redness cz of allergies,nd end up by using Naphcon droplets cheapest chemical ever for clearing the redness for 2 3 hours only ! iv been using it for years cz i cant find other solution!i knw it is unhealthy to keep using this method and some time this droplet wont take effect at all !It gets serious at night where u cant go out with friends its like impossible to have a good looking face overnight,plus getting arrested cz uv been suspected on smoking weed yeah its happened with me twice ! All i knw is that i really in need to solve this ..i will have that surgery for sure