Bloodshot eyes are a sign of some bad mojo

bloodshot eyes a sign of poor healthRed eyes might look attractive in birds, but in humans, red eyes are a sign of some bad mojo.

Eyes white, everything is alright

Under normal circumstances, the small blood vessels that crisscross the eye, feeding it all the necessary goodies, are invisible. But if they become swollen or leaky, they manifest their upset presence by giving the slera, the “white” of the eyes, a slight red tinge.

The red eye look is uniquely human

Quite a few creatures have red eyes. Being stared at by a flaming red eye is pretty intimidating and most definitely could evoke a little terror, but these eyes (sclera) are red all over, so the blood vessel antics are kept secret.

red eye red eye red eye

Humans have coloured eyes floating in a sea of white, this set up is extraordinary. The unusual pattern means that the world bares witness to the blood vessel behaviour. Blood vessel activities are a distinctive form of human communication.

Red eye stories

So what stories do red eyes tell ?

When the white of the eye turns red, it typically signifies emotional turmoil or fatigue. But a long host of physiological upsets, can also turn the sclera red – including allergies, infections or drug abuse.

Receiving red eye messages

Researchers at the University of Maryland asked 208 students, 93 males and 115 females, with an average age of 20.6 years, what message they thought red eyes conveyed.

Each volunteer scanned lots of images of eyes. Half of the images had white sclera, but the other half had a little photoshop manipulation applied to them, so that the sclera were a touch red. The volunteers were asked to comment on the well being of the owners of each set of eyes.

Red eyed people were perceived to be

  • sadder
  • less healthy
  • less attractive

Overall red eyes were coupled with negative emotional status.

Sexy red number not so sexy

Red has sex appeal, but a hint of red in the eye, raises red flags.

So the moral of the story is to look ravishing, you need to keep the eyes white.

Probably will have to address the cause – too little sleep, too much booze or too much crying. Now, if only there was the eye drop equivalent of tippex to remove those unwanted red lines.

 When the Whites of the Eyes are Red: A Uniquely Human Cue. Ethology, 2011; 117 (5): 395. Robert R. Provine, Marcello O. Cabrera, Nicole W. Brocato, Kurt A. Krosnowski.

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Further reading

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Discover the secret to a great passport picture Beware your makeup could turn you into a beast not a beauty Looking for a drug-free prescription for a restful night’s sleep ?

 The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion


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