The redness of the eye may be a cause for concern. However, most serious eye problems happen when there is redness along with pain or changes in vision.


What are the common causes of red eyes?


Allergies can affect the eyes leading them to become red and swollen. Other symptoms that one may experience include: itching, burning sensation, increased tearing

Eye allergy symptoms can also be accompanied by sneezing and an itchy, running nose.

Some common allergy triggers include: pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold, cigarette smoke and environmental irritants

Dry eyes

Tears are made by small glands in and around the eyes. They work to help protect and lubricate the eyes. In dry eyes, the ye does not produce enough tears.

Dry eyes are very common, with  a prevalence rate of between 20-50%. The condition is more likely to occur in women, people over the age of 30, and contact lens wearers.

In dry eyes, eyes may appear red. Other symptoms include: a stinging, scratchy, or burning sensation, foreign body sensation, intermittent blurry vision

Conjunctivitis happens when the membrane covering the insides of the eyelids and the white part of  the eye, called the conjunctiva, becomes inflamed. This condition is also called pink eye.

Inflammation of the conjunctiva causes the whites of  the eyes to appear pink or red in color. Some other symptoms that may occur with conjunctivitis are:

itching, a burning sensation. foreign body sensation, dissharge of mucus or pus which may look like crusting of eyelids and or lashes

Conjunctivitis can have a variety of causes, including:

viral infections, such as those due to adenovirus and zoster

bacterial infections that can be caused by Staph, Strep or other bacterium

Allergies to things like pollen, molds, pet dander. smoke and environmental irritants.

Conjunctivitis due to a viral or bacterial infection is contagious. That means that it can easily be spread from one person to another.

Blepharitis is when the eyelids become inflamed. It can cause eyelids or eyes to appear red and swollen.

Some additional symptoms of blepharitis are:

  • itching
  • a burning or stinging sensation
  • feeling like something is in your eye
  • increased tearing
  • crusty eyelids in the morning
  • sensitivity to light

Blepharitis may cause loss of  eyelashes or lashes that grow in the wrong location, or blurred vision.

Blepharitis can happen if you have high amounts of bacteria on your eyelids. The condition may also develop if oil glands in your eyelids become clogged

Uveitis is inflammation that happens in the middle part of the eye, called the uvea. 

Inflammation due to uveitis can lead to eye redness. Additional symptoms to look out for are: blurred vision, eye pain. floaters and photophobia

There are a few known causes of uveitis, including:

Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis

syphilis, shingles(Zoster) and toxoplasmosis



Timely treatment for Uveitis is vital. This is because the condition may lead to decreased vision or even vision loss if not managed.


occurs inflammation affects the white of the eye, which is called the sclera. When this occurs, the white of  the eye can become red and swollen. Symptoms can be:

  • increased tearing
  • eye tenderness or pain
  • blurred vision
  • sensitivity to light
  • pain in the head, face, or jaw
  • decreased vision

Scleritis is often associated with an autoimmune disease including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease

Scleritis may happen due to an injury to the eye or an eye infection.

Subconjunctival hemorrhage

Sometimes, a blood vessel in an eye can break, leaking blood on the surface of your eye. The condition may look serious, but it’s often benign and goes away on its own in a week or two. Typically, the redness in the affected eye is the only symptom, although in some cases, your eye may feel slightly irritated.

However, if you have subconjunctival hemorrhage that happens again and again and or vision is decreased, seek Medical help.

Some potential causes of subconjunctival hemorrhage are: rubbing eyes too hard, intense coughing or sneezing, vomiting,  eye injury, extreme exertion such as in physical exercise or lifting heavy objects


One be more prone to this condition if  onblood thinners or have High Bolld pressure and Diabetes


is a blockage of the meibomian gland in the eye that causes inflammation. It can affect the outside or inside of either upper or lower eyelid.

The area at the edge of eyelid can become red, swollen, and painful. The affected area may fill with meibum (due to the blocked gland) and can potentially grow to the size of a pea.

Angle-closure glaucoma

is a condition where the pressure in the eye increases due to the eye producing more fluid than the normal rate. This can damage the optic nerve, potentially leading to vision loss. This is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY

The symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma come suddenly and may include eye redness, and extreme pain in the eye, rainbow halos, blurred vision, decreased vision, headache, nausea or vomiting



Corneal ulcers

are sores, that affect the outer part of the eye, which is called the cornea. This condition is also called keratitis.

In addition to red eyes, other symptoms of a corneal ulcer are: severe eye pain, increased tearing, discharge of pus, blurred vision, sensitivity to light 


There are several things that can cause corneal ulcers to develop: bacteria, viruses, particularly herpes simplex virus and varicella-zoster, fungi, acanthamoeba, dry eyes, sleeping in contact lenses showering or swimming in contact lenses, or using water to clean contacts, injury to the cornea, such as a scratch, cut, or burn, Bell’s palsy and incomplete Eyelid closure

Seek timely medical attention in case of symptoms of a corneal ulcer. If not managed, this condition can permanently damage vision.


that affects the eye may cause it to become red, often due to irritation or bleeding.  Other symptoms that may occur with an eye injury are: eye pain ,swelling of the eye or the surrounding area, trouble moving eye in different directions, decreased vision, unequal pupil size


A few examples of common sources of eye injuries include: foreign objects, physical trauma, such as sustaining a blow or an accident, exposure to chemicals

Contact lens wearers

 have an increased risk of eye redness due to a variety of factors. Some of these include:

  • scratches or scrapes on the cornea
  • eye allergies and infections
  • corneal ulcers, which can happen from sleeping in contact lenses
  • dry eyes
  • neovascularization, when new blood vessel grow on the cornea
  • GPC, a type of conjunctivitis in which bumps develop under the eyelid
  • contact lens-induced acute red eye (CLARE), an inflammatory condition associated with wearing contacts overnight

In addition to eye redness, some symptoms of complications related to contact lenses are:

  • eye pain
  • increased tearing
  • blurry vision
  • sensitivity to light

Contact Lens Wearers with any of the symptoms above, remove contacts immediately. If symptoms continue or become worse, contact an eye doctor.

Other causes of Red Eyes


  • use of alcohol or marijuana
  • photokeratitis, which is eye irritation that can happen due to sun exposure
  • ocular rosacea, a skin condition that most often affects the cheeks, nose, or forehead but can also involve eyes
  • trichiasis, in which eyelashes grow inward and irritate the eye
  • cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection that can affect the eyelid or eye socket
  • endophthalmitis, an infection of the tissues on the inside of the eye
  • onchocerciasis, a parasitic infection caused by a roundworm
  • retinoblastoma, a type of cancer that affects the eye

Artificial tears OTC can be used to help alleviate red eyes and wash away irritants. 

  • Avoid irritants.  such as pollen, smoke, or chemical fumes.
  • Wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching eyes or the surrounding area if hands are  unclean.
  • Avoid makeup or contacts. Aim to avoid wearing makeup or contacts until ymptoms have gone away.
  • Limit screen time. Spending too much time in front of a computer, TV, or phone screen can cause eyestrain and dry eyes, so try to minimize screen time.

If eye redness is accompanied by pain or changes in vision, SEE YOUR Eye doctor or go to an ER immediately. 

Depending on diagnosis, the doctor may prescribe treatment that helps to alleviate and manage symptoms. This would likely include things like:

  • Steroid eye drops or tablets
  • antimicrobial medications, which may include eye drops, tablets, or a topical medication
  • Steroid-antibiotic combo
  • prescription eye drops for specific conditions like allergies, dry eyes, uveitis , glaucoma
  • Laser