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I Have A Red Eye, What Causes It?

Red eyes can be due to multiple of causes. The more common ones are described. Red eyes associated with pain and/or decrease of vision must be seen by an eye doctor - it may be serious.


red eye imageAllergic - red eyes, normal vision, itchy, stringy secretions, acute or chronic. Rx cool compress, mast cell inhibitors (Patanol, Livostin,etc), steroids for short term use. Patients with seasonal allergies should begin treatment with a mast cell inhibitor (Patanol) just prior to the season.

Bacterial - red eyes, normal vision, mucous secretions, lids stuck together, acute or chronic. Rx Antibiotic drops (Garamycin, Tobrex, Ocuflox, Ciloxan)

Viral - red eyes, normal vision, watery secretions, often associated with sore throat. Rx cool compress, artificial tears, or an eye doctor might prescribe combination antibiotic/steroid drops for short term use. Like the flu the drops do not cure the condition. They reduce symptoms. Viral conjunctivitis is often very contagious. Washing your hands reduces chances of catching or transmitting conjunctivitis.

Toxic - red eyes, normal vision, watery secretions. Enviormental. Rx - eliminate irritant, cool compresses, anti-inflammatory drops like Acular.

Learn more about Conjunctival Problems


Sub-conjunctival Hemmorhage One eye is very bloody in a particular sector. Looks real bad but isn't. It is a black and blue of the eye though it looks very red. It can happen from contusion to the eye, sneezing, coughing, etc. Medicine does not help, just mother nature and time. It may take up to two weeks to disappear. If it happens often a physical examination with blood testing is in order.


Dry Eyes Lubrication or plugs. Click here to go to Dry Eye Section

oject in eyeForeign BodyIrrigation or placement of head /eye into water. If this doesn't work, do not try and remove the foreign body by yourself. An eye doctor must find it with a microscope and remove it.

Corneal Abrasion Remove your contact lens immediately. Contact lens related corneal abrasions have a significant chance of becoming infected. Go to the eye doctor immediately since this can be easily treated.

Keratitis/Corneal Ulcer May be serious. Any decrease in vision associated with pain may be serious. Immediate examination by an eye doctor is essential. Ulcers require immediate treatment with strong antibiotic drops.

Learn more about Corneal Problems


Iritis Chronic or acute inflammation inside the eye. Needs immediate attention, usually accompanied by pain or decrease in vision. May be acute or chronic. Medicines must be monitored.

Learn more about Iritis, Uveitis


Episcleritis A somewhat painful inflammation of the tissue immediately under the conjunctiva. Needs the attention of the eye doctor.

Learn more about Episleritis & Scleritis