Looking closely at your eyes in a mirror, you may notice a fine network of thin, red lines, particularly concentrated in the corners and upper and lower rims of your eyes. These narrow vein-like lines are the smallest of the body's blood vessels, called capillaries. If these capillaries become damaged, irritated, or infected, they may become more prominent, causing your eye to feel uncomfortable and appear red.
Possible causes of sore, red eyes with prominent capillaries include:
- A foreign object in the eye. Check your eye carefully in the mirror for any dirt, dust, eyelashes, or other possible irritant.
- Allergies. Do you notice your eyes becoming inflamed frequently around certain plants, animals, or times of the year? Do you have other symptoms, such as sneezing, a runny nose, or respiratory issues? You may have allergies! Contact your doctor or other medical provider to schedule an allergy test.
- Dry eyes. Some people simply have chronically dry eyes, either from low production of tears by the tear ducts, or the production of low-quality tears. Over the counter eye drops can be used to soothe dry eyes. In some serious cases, surgical intervention is required.
- Pink eye (conjunctivitis). Conjunctivitis, more commonly referred to as pink eye, is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, a transparent membrane that protects the white part of your eyeball. It is caused by a bacterial or viral infection or viral infection, and can be treated in mild cases with cold compresses or warm compresses. In more serious cases, antibiotics can be prescribed by a physician.
- Uveitis. Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea, which supplies blood to the retina. This is a rare disorder which generally occurs in young and middle-aged people. Other symptoms include light sensitivity and pain, both of which start suddenly. Vision loss can occur from scarring, so it is important to consult your doctor if you believe you may have uveitis.