Red Eyes Causes and Treatment

Eye Redness or Bloodshot Eyes:

Eye redness or commonly called bloodshot eyes occurs from irritated or inflamed blood vessels on the surface of the white part of the eye. 

Red eyes can be an indication of several different health issues and eye problems. These issues may be benign or serious that require emergency medical attention.

The redness of your can be treated with several eye drops, However, serious eye problems happen when you have redness along with pain or changes in your vision.

Common Causes of Red Eyes: 

Common causes of red eyes can be internal or external. Red eyes can occur due to some health issues or from environmental factors. Here are some common causes of Red Eyes or Bloodshot eyes:


Allergies are the most common cause of eye redness, leading them to become red and swollen. Apart from Eye Redness, allergies show some other symptoms including:

  • itching 
  • A burning sensation 
  • Increased tearing

Along with Eye Allergy Symptoms, some other allergy symptoms can also be occur, such as sneezing and an itchy, running nose.

Some common allergy triggers include:

  • pollen
  • dust mites
  • mold
  • pet dander
  • irritants like cigarette smoke or air pollution


Inflammation of the conjunctiva (the white part of your eye) or membrane causes it to appear pink or red in color this situation is called Conjunctivitis or pink eye. 

Some other symptoms that may occur with conjunctivitis are:

  • Eye itching
  • Burning sensation in eyes
  • Feeling like something is in your eye
  • discharge of mucus or pus, which can lead to crusting of the eyelids or eyelashes
  • Increased tearing

Various causes are responsible for Conjunctivitis including:

  • Viral infections, such as adenoviruses, measles, or COVID-19
  • Bacterial infections caused by species like Staphylococcus aureusStreptococcus pneumoniae, or Haemophilus influenzae
  • Allergies to things like pollen, molds, and pet dander
  • Environmental irritants like smoke or chemical fumes.

Conjunctivitis is very contagious if occurs due to a viral or bacterial infection. It can easily be spread from one person to another.

Dry eyes

Tears keep the eyes lubricated, and small glands above the eyes are responsible for tears generation. When your eyes don’t produce enough tears, the Condition of dry eyes occurs.

Dry eyes are very common and one of the most common causes of Red eyes. Dry eyes are more likely to occur in women, people over the age of 50, and individuals who wear contact lenses.

If you have Dry eyes, apart from Eye Redness there are some other symptoms including:

  • A stinging, scratchy, or burning sensation
  • Feeling like something is in your eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision (that comes and goes, especially when reading)


The condition of the inflamed eyelids is called Blepharitis causing your eyelids or eyes to appear red and swollen. Some additional symptoms of blepharitis are:

  • Eye itching
  • A burning or stinging sensation
  • Feeling like something is in your eye
  • Increased tearing
  • Crusty eyelids in the morning
  • Sensitivity to light

If not treated on time Blepharitis can cause more serious symptoms such as loss of eyelashes, eyelashes that grow in the wrong location, or blurred vision.

The high amount of bacteria on eyelids can cause Blepharitis, it may also develop if oil glands in your eyelids become clogged.


When inflammation affects the white part i.e sclera of the eye called Scleritis. Due to Scleitis white of your eye can become red and swollen. Some other symptoms can be:

  • Increased tearing
  • Eye tenderness or pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Pain in the head, face, or jaw
  • Decreased vision

Some autoimmune diseases are also responsible for Scleritis. Examples:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease

It’s can occur due to an injury to the eye or an eye infection.


When inflammation happens in the Uvea (middle part of your eye) called Uveitis. The area between the white of your eye and your retina is called Uvea.

Due to uveitis eye redness can happen. Additional symptoms to look out for are:

  • Blurred vision
  • Eye pain
  • Eye floaters
  • Sensitivity to light

There are a few known causes of uveitis, including:

  • Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and ulcerative colitis
  • Infections such as syphilis, shingles, and toxoplasmosis
  • Types of cancers like lymphoma
  • The Herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1

Getting timely treatment for uveitis is important because the condition can lead to vision loss if not managed properly.

Subconjunctival hemorrhage

When a blood vessel in an eye breaks and blood starts leaking on the surface of your eye, called subconjunctival hemorrhage.

Subconjunctival hemorrhage may look serious, but it’s usually benign and goes away in 1 to 2 weeks. Affected eye shows the redness, although in some cases, your eye may feel slightly irritated.

If your vision is decreased due to Subconjunctival hemorrhage, Consult with an Eye Specialist.

Some potential causes of subconjunctival hemorrhage are:

  • rubbing your eyes too hard
  • intense coughing or sneezing
  • vomiting
  • eye injury

Patients taking blood thinners or have diabetes or hypertension are more prone to this condition.

Eyelid stye

Stype happens when blockage of the meibomian gland in the eye causes inflammation. Stye can affect the outside or inside of either your upper or lower eyelid.

The area at the edge of your eyelid can become red, swollen, and painful due to this condition. 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

In Glaucoma, the pressure in your eye increases due to the eye producing more fluid compare to normal rate. This can damage your optic nerve, potentially leading to vision loss.

Angle-closure glaucoma is one of of the Types of it, a rapid increase in eye pressure occurs in it. The symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma appears suddenly and may include eye redness. Other symptoms can also appear including:

  • Intense pain in your eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Seeing rainbow-colored rings or halos
  • Decreased vision
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting

Corneal ulcers

Corneal ulcers or sores affect the outer part of your eye, which is called the cornea. This condition is also called keratitis. 

Due to corneal ulcers the Redness of the eye occurs, Some other symptoms of a corneal ulcer are:

  • Severe eye pain
  • Increased tearing
  • Feeling like something is in your eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Discharge of pus
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eyelid swelling

Some reason that may responsible for Corneal Ulcers are:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses, particularly herpes simplex virus and varicella-zoster virus
  • fungi
  • Acanthamoeba, a type of parasitic infection
  • Dry eyes
  • Sleeping in contact lenses
  • Showering or swimming in contact lenses, or using well water to clean contacts
  • Injury to the cornea, such as a scratch, cut, or burn
  • Bell’s palsy and other disorders affecting the eyelid’s ability to close


An injury that affects your eye may cause it to become red. Other symptoms that may occur with an eye injury are:

  • Eye pain
  • Decreased vision
  • Swelling of the eye or the surrounding area
  • Trouble moving your eye
  • Different pupil sizes

Some sources of eye injuries include:

  • Foreign objects that get into your eye
  • Physical trauma, such as sustaining a blow or an accident
  • Exposure to chemicals

Contact lens wear

People who wear contact lenses have touch their eyes and the surrounding area more often. It increase risk of eye redness. There are several factors responsible for it, some of these include:

  • Scratches or scrapes on the cornea
  • Eye infections
  • Eye allergies
  • Corneal ulcers, which can happen from sleeping in contact lenses
  • Dry eyes
  • Giant papillary conjunctivitis, a type of conjunctivitis in which bumps develop under your eyelid
  • Neovascularization, when new blood vessel grow on the cornea
  • contact lens-induced acute red eye (CLARE), an inflammatory condition associated with wearing contacts overnight

Along with eye redness, some symptoms of complications related to contact lenses are:

  • Eye pain
  • Increased tearing
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light

Additional causes of eye redness

Some other causes are also responsbile for eye redness include:

  • Consumption of alcohol or cannabis
  • 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 affect your 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 your eye
  • Onchocerciasis, a parasitic infection caused by a roundworm
  • Retinoblastoma, a type of cancer that affects the eye

Treatment of Eye Redness

Eye redness is caused by inflammation in the blood vessels around the eyes. It’s usually harmless, but sometimes it can be an early sign of serious problems. 

If Eye redness is caused by mild conditions such as allergies, conjunctivitis, or blepharitis, can be treated at home. Some things that you can do include:

  • Apply a cool compress: One of the easiest ways to treat eye redness is by using an ice pack. Simply place an ice cube in a plastic bag and hold it against your closed eyes for five minutes at a time. This will help reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Take over-the-counter (OTC) medications : If you suffer from dry eye syndrome, you might find relief with over-the-counter (OTC) drops. These products contain artificial tears that lubricate the eyes and relieve irritation. They also help prevent further damage to the cornea. However, these drops should not be used as a substitute for prescription medications.
  • Try artificial tears:
  • Avoid irritants
  • Wash your hands
  • Avoid makeup or contacts
  • Limit screen time

If the problem of eye redness increases and accompanied by pain or changes in vision, visit an Opthalmologist. They will examine your eye and suggest you the right treatment and medication as per your condition.

Depending on your diagnosis, eye specialist will prescribe treatment to alleviate your symptoms. This would likely include things like:

  • Steroid eye drops or tablets
  • Antimicrobial medications, which may include eye drops, tablets, or a topical medication that you apply near your eye
  • Prescription eye drops for specific conditions like allergies, dry eye, or glaucoma
  • A laser procedure (in the case of acute angle-closure)

What are the complications of eye redness?

Most causes of eye redness won’t result in serious complications, but if you have a condition that causes vision changes than you may face problem in performing daily activities. To alleviate these symptoms the consultation with an eye doctor must required. 

Some eye conditions that aren’t treated on time may also result in Vision loss. Conditions like eye infections, angle-closure glaucoma, and eye injuries should be treated on time.

When should you contact a doctor?

In most of the cases of eye redness, an emergency medical attention is not required.

If you experience eye redness since long along with other symptoms, make an appointment to see a doctor if:

  • Symptoms last longer than 1 week
  • Experience changes in your vision
  • Experience pain in your eye
  • Become sensitive to light
  • Discharge from one or both of your eyes
  • Taking medications that thin your blood, such as heparin or warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)

Seek emergency medical attention if:

  • Eye is red after trauma or injury
  • Headache and have blurry vision
  • Begin seeing white rings, or halos, around lights
  • Experience nausea and vomiting

How can you prevent eye redness?

Following proper hygiene and avoiding irritants that can cause redness may help you to prevent red eyes. Follow these tips to prevent eye redness

  • Wash your hands frequently, particularly if you’re exposed to someone who has an eye infection.
  • Don’t wear contact lenses longer than recommended or while swimming.
  • Remove all makeup from your eyes each day.
  • Don’t wear contact lenses overnight.
  • Avoid activities that can cause eyestrain.
  • Clean your contact lenses regularly.
  • Avoid contact with substances that can cause your eyes to become irritated. If exposure does occur, flush out your eye immediately with eyewash or water if eyewash isn’t available.
Categories : Eye Care Eye Diseases

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