Red eye

Red eye

Red eye

‘Red eye’ is a term used when irritation or infection causes dilated blood vessels on the surface of the eye.


The eye is red, and may be itchy, watery and feel gritty. Vision may be blurred.


Infection. When a bacterial infection causes the eye to look red, there is usually a thicker discharge and a 'gritty' feeling in the eye. A viral infection causes a watery discharge.

Allergy such as hayfever. An allergy results in bloodshot, glazed eyes that are watery and very itchy. The surrounding area may be puffy or there may be dark circles under the eyes.

Sensitivity or allergy to eye drops.

Conjunctivitis. Inflammation of the conjunctiva (the thin layer of tissue covering the eye) causes the blood vessels to swell, and the eye becomes bloodshot.

Burst blood vessel. A blood vessel can rupture on the eye surface after coughing, or spontaneously rupture.

Irritation, such as caused by smoke, dust, eye make-up, or computer screens.

Inflammatory condition. Rarely, red eye may be a result of an inflammatory condition such as iritis or uveitis, which can be caused by problems with the immune system. Iritis may be accompanied by sensitivity to light, blurred vision and headache.

Acute glaucoma. This is an emergency that can result in loss of vision. It occurs when pressure inside your eye rises suddenly. The eye will usuallly be severely red and painful. You may have visual disturbances, such as seeing halos around lights. You need to go to your doctor or ophthalmologist immediately, so you can be treated straighaway.

Corneal ulcer. An ulcer on the clear layer at the front of your eyeball causes the eye to become red and light sensitive. It may feel something's in your eye.


‘Dry eye’, which is common in the elderly and may be caused by some medicines, may also redden the eyes but requires different treatment to ‘red eye’.

When should you seek medical advice?

You should seek medical advice urgently if:

  • the discharge from your eye is thick;
  • your eyelids are stuck together on waking;
  • you can't open your eye or keep it open;
  • you have a change in vision, or your vision is blurred;
  • there is a foreign object in your eye;
  • you have been working with metal shavings or wood turning;
  • you see a halo effect around lights;
  • you have photophobia — pain or discomfort on looking at bright lights;
  • your pupils are different sizes or irregular;
  • there is swelling around your eye or the lower lid;
  • redness or tenderness extends from the eye to the surrounding tissues;
  • you experience pain or a feeling of tension in or around your eyes;
  • the ‘red eye’ has lasted more than 5-7 days;
  • there is a coexisting eye problem such as glaucoma, or ‘dry eye’ in the elderly;
  • you have an auto-immune condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease; or
  • you have ‘tired’ eyes, but do not have the accompanying signs of ‘red eye’ (this could be eye strain and requires eye tests).


You should try to avoid substances that irritate your eyes, such as smoke, dust, cosmetics and chlorine in swimming pools, if these are known aggravating factors.


The treatment your doctor prescribes will depend on what is causing the problem. For example, an allergy may respond to antihistamine eye drops. Soothing eye drops and eye ointments or gels may help.

You should discard all drops, solutions and ointments about one month after opening. However, unit (single) dose lubricant eye drop packs remain sterile until opened, if used within the expiry date printed on the packet.

You should also remove your contact lenses before using some types of eye drops (follow the manufacturer's instructions or check with your pharmacist), and should not wear contact lenses at all if an eye infection is present. Some drops contain medicines or preservatives that will damage contact lenses.


1. Mayo Clinic. Red eye. (accessed Sept 2015).2. PatientUK. Red eye. Reviewed July 2015. (accessed Sept 2015).

3. NHS Choices. Red eye. Sept 2015. (accessed Sept 2015).


RedEye Chicago

Red eye

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Why Are My Eyes Red?

Red eye

Ever look in the mirror and see two red eyes staring back at you? It happens to a lot of people every now and then.

Your eyes get red when the tiny blood vessels on the surface of the eyes expand and turn the whites of one or both eyes a pink or reddish tint. Many things can cause it, a night of heavy drinking, or a physical injury to your eye. But if you haven’t had too much alcohol, or scratched or poked your eyeball recently, there are other possibilities.

Allergy triggers may make your eyes red. Outdoor causes include pollen from grasses and trees. Indoor triggers include pet dander, dust or mold, or irritants perfume and smoke. In these cases, your eyes may also have:

You may also have nasal allergy symptoms, such as sneezing and a stuffy nose.

Sometimes, the tears your eyes make are not the right consistency and evaporate too fast. And sometimes the eye can’t make tears at all. This condition is called dry eye. It can cause pain, ulcers on your cornea or even, in rare instances, some vision loss.

Besides eye redness, you may have some other symptoms of dry eye:

  • A gritty feeling
  • A burning sensation in the eye
  • Occasional blurred vision
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Inability to cry
  • Eye fatigue
  • When your eyes aren’t dry, you get a lot of tears
  • A stringy discharge
  • Discomfort with contact lenses

Also known as conjunctivitis, pinkeye is when the lining inside your eyelid and the white of your eye become inflamed. Causes can include a virus, bacteria, an allergy, or irritants swimming pool chlorine. It’s very common, especially among children, and is very contagious.

Other symptoms include:

  • More tears than usual
  • Your eyes burn, itch, or feel gritty
  • White, yellow, or green discharge from your eyes
  • Your eyes are more sensitive to light
  • You get a crust on your eyelid or eyelashes

This happens when tiny blood vessels break beneath the surface of your eye. The blood is trapped and makes the white of your eye look bright red. It can be caused by an intense sneeze, heavy lifting, hard vomiting, or even rubbing your eye a little too hard.

Usually, the eye does not hurt.

Broken blood vessels cause other symptoms :

  • A bright red area on your eye along with the general redness
  • A scratchy sensation

Sometimes fluid builds up in the front part of the eye. This causes pressure on the eye and can damage the optic nerve. This is called glaucoma, and is the leading cause of blindness for people 60 and over. The usual form of glaucoma is generally painless.

An unusual form of acute glaucoma can cause symptoms such as:

It’s usually nothing to worry about, as long as it only happens every now and then and doesn’t last long. You might find temporary relief in over-the-counter eye drops, such as tear substitutes that wash and moisten the eye.

But remember, routine and repeated use of these “get the red out” drops will make the problem worse with your eyes becoming dependent on the drops and becoming even more red when the drops wear off.

 In that case, you could try a different brand or stop using them completely.

Decongestants can help the itchiness along with the redness of allergies.

You should call a doctor if, along with red eyes, you also have:

  • A sudden change in vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sudden halos around lights
  • Severe headache, pain in the eye, or fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • A foreign object or substance in your eye
  • Swelling in the eye
  • Inability to keep the eye open


American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Types of Allergies: Eye Allergy.”

National Eye Institute: “Facts About Dry Eye.”

Centers for Disease Control: “Pink Eye: Usually Mild and Easy to Treat.”

Mayo Clinic: “Subconjunctival hemorrhage (broken blood vessel in eye).”

Mayo Clinic: “Symptoms: Red Eye.”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “What Is Glaucoma?”

© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. Irritations That Cause Red Dry Eyes


8 Reasons Your Eyes Are Red—and How to Treat Them

Red eye

offstocker/Getty Images

Bright red spider- veins, red patches, overall redness—learn all the causes of bloodshot eyes, so you can get a sense of what's behind the redness in yours and whether you need to see an eye doctor pronto.

If the eyes are the mirrors of the soul, bloodshot eyes are the mirrors of your health, letting you know that something’s going on either with your eyes themselves or in another part of your body. But because so many conditions can cause one or both of your eyes to take on a reddish hue, it’s not always easy to figure out what’s causing the redness—and what you should do about it.

“Usually the eyes turn red because the blood vessels on the surface of the eye get dilated or inflamed,” explains Jessica Lee, MD, assistant professor of vitreoretinal surgery, department of ophthalmology at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. “And there are a multitude of reasons that can happen.”

Some of these reasons are simple and have an easy fix, while others are more serious; red, inflamed, and/or itchy eyes could be the first sign of a condition that may have a real impact on your vision. We asked Dr. Lee to explain all the things that could cause red eyes, so you can better determine why you’re sporting the bloodshot look and how to treat it.

RELATED: 7 Medications That Can Cause Dry Eyes



Not only can an allergic reaction make your eyes feel bad—think itchy, tender, and watery—but allergies also trigger a blotchy kind of redness, which only becomes worse if you scratch your eyes.

“Allergic reactions occur when the body's natural immune system overworks or has an excessive response to a harmless stimulus,” says Dr. Lee.

Almost anything can set off a reaction, but the most common allergens are dust, pollen, pet dander, and detergent.

The redness will start to go away once you are no longer exposed to the allergen, but that can take a while, depending on the severity of your allergy.

To speed things up, splash your eyes with water or use a cool compress on them. Over-the-counter eyedrops designed to counter allergies can help, as can antihistamine meds.

Try to figure out what caused your reaction and avoid coming into contact with it again, advises Dr. Lee.

RELATED: Your Secret Allergy Triggers Revealed

robertsrob/Getty Images

Pink eye is the non-medical term for conjunctivitis—a bacterial, viral, or allergy-induced infection that leaves one or both eyes bright red, swollen, teary and itchy, says Dr. Lee. It's easily spread, unfortunately, and though it rarely becomes serious, a b conjunctivitis can keep you away from work for several days and turn your eyes into goopy, pinkish-red messes.

RELATED: Justin Bieber Has Pink Eye. Here's What Causes This Icky Infection

The condition doesn't necessarily require a doctor's visit; applying a cold compress can help ease the redness and make your eyes feel better.

But if you're not sure if what you have is conjunctivitis, or the infection doesn't go away in a few days, check in with your MD.

The type you have will determine how and if your doctor can treat it—for example, if it's bacterial, antibiotic eyedrops can help.

If you have either viral or bacterial conjunctivitis, practice good hand hygiene to keep it from spreading to other people in your household. Sharing towels or makeup, or just touching your eyes and then making contact with another person, can transmit it.


Digital Vision./Getty Images

If you've ever had one too many drinks and noticed at the time or the next day that your eyes sported bright red spider veins in them, then you've experienced alcohol's effect on the eyes.

Here's what happens: Alcohol causes the tiny blood vessels on the eyes to dilate—so more blood flows through them.

The more you drink, the more visible and red they appear against the whites of your eyes, says Dr. Lee.

Over the counter eye drops can help lessen the redness, and as the alcohol leaves your system in the hours after your drinking binge, the blood vessels will return to normal.

RELATED: 10 Hangover Remedies: What Works?

Dave and Les Jacobs/Getty Images

Tired eyes tend to be bloodshot eyes. That's because a lack of sleep can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches your eyes, which in turn causes blood vessels in them to dilate and appear red.

Another factor that leads to redness comes into play as well. “If your eyes are kept open for a long time because of lack of sleep, it prevents the cornea (the surface of your eye) from being well lubricated, and this can cause dryness and redness,” says Dr. Lee. “The best way to calm them would be to get more sleep, and use artificial tears and cool compresses to ease the discomfort.”

RELATED: 10 Gifts That Deliver a Great Night's Sleep

phasinphoto/Getty Images

A stye is a small red bump that forms on your eyelid or bottom edge of your eye after an oil gland there becomes plugged up. You could have just one or several, and each will resemble a pimple or boil. One of the first signs is redness, along with swelling and sensitivity. They're caused by bacteria and almost everyone will have them at some point.

RELATED: 9 Worst Eye Care Mistakes You're Making

Luckily a stye doesn't affect your vision. But it isn't exactly pretty, and getting rid of it generally involves waiting it out and letting it go away on its own in several days.

all pimples, touching it can make it worse. And of course, don't try to pop it; that too can worsen the infection.

If you get styes frequently, see your ophthalmologist, who may prescribe an antibiotic ointment.



julief514/Getty Images

Contact lenses can prevent enough oxygen from reaching your eyes, leaving you with bloodshot and irritated peepers, says Dr. Lee. “If the lenses are worn too long or worn while sleeping, they can cause redness, infections, and in worst-case situations corneal ulcers.”

RELATED: 7 Eye Symptoms and What They Could Mean

Steer clear of these issues by following the lens care directions closely, cleansing them properly, practicing good contact lens hygiene, and taking them out before you fall asleep. In the meantime, eye drops can ease the redness and soothe irritation.

blanscape/Getty Images

A subconjunctival hemorrhage happens when a blood vessel just under the eye surface breaks, and blood gets trapped and forms a bright red patch in the white of your eye. It's a common injury and though the hemorrhage looks serious, it won't ly affect vision or cause any pain, discharge, or swelling.

RELATED: A Model Almost Lost Her Eye After Getting a Sclera Tattoo. Here's Why She Did It

A subconjuctival hemorrhage can be brought on when you overexert yourself, say at the gym or by lifting something heavy, or even by a strong sneeze or cough. Even throwing up can trigger hemorrhaging, as can direct trauma to your eye. The red patch usually fades over a few weeks.

Glaucoma is actually a series of diseases that damage the optic nerve (the nerve that connects the retina of the eye to the brain), often when too much pressure is put on the eye due to fluid buildup.

One of the first signs of one type of glaucoma, called acute angle-closure glaucoma, is redness, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Other signs include blurred vision, seeing halos around lights, and pain in the eyes.

RELATED: Need an Eye Doctor? How to Choose the Right One for Your Eye Problem

Glaucoma can potentially cause blindness, so it’s important to see an eye specialist for a full exam if you suspect you may have it. Typically glaucoma progresses slowly, but if the redness and vision problems pop up suddenly, and you also experience headaches and/or nausea, it may be a medical emergency.

Though glaucoma is more common among older adults, anyone of any age can develop one of the types of the disease. Getting regular eye exams can catch it early and slow down vision loss with the help of medication.



13 Reasons You May Have Red and Bloodshot Eyes

Red eye
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles.

Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Sheppard AL, Wolffsohn JS.

    Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and amelioration. BMJ Open Ophthalmol. 2018;3(1):e000146. doi:10.1136/bmjophth-2018-000146

  2. Javadi MA, Feizi S. Dry eye syndrome. J Ophthalmic Vis Res. 2011;6(3):192-8.

  3. Solano D, Czyz CN. Viral Conjunctivitis. StatPearls Publishing. Updated November 18, 2018.

  4. Karabela Y, Yardimci G, Yildirim I, Atalay E, Karabela SN. Treatment of Phthiriasis Palpebrarum and Crab Louse: Petrolatum Jelly and 1% Permethrin Shampoo. Case Rep Med. 2015;2015:287906. doi:10.1155/2015/287906

  5. Putnam CM. Diagnosis and management of blepharitis: an optometrist's perspective. Clin Optom (Auckl). 2016;8:71-78. doi:10.2147/OPTO.S84795

  6. Duplechain A, Conrady CD, Patel BC, Baker S. Uveitis. StatPearls Publishing. Updated June 3, 2019.

  7. Shimizu A, Maruyama K, Yokoyama Y, Tsuda S, Ryu M, Nakazawa T. Characteristics of uveitic glaucoma and evaluation of its surgical treatment. Clin Ophthalmol. 2014;8:2383-9. doi:10.2147/OPTH.S72383

  8. Mclaurin E, Cavet ME, Gomes PJ, Ciolino JB. Brimonidine Ophthalmic Solution 0.025% for Reduction of Ocular Redness: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Optom Vis Sci. 2018;95(3):264-271. doi:10.1097/OPX.0000000000001182

  9. Markoulli M, Kolanu S. Contact lens wear and dry eyes: challenges and solutions. Clin Optom (Auckl). 2017;9:41-48. doi:10.2147/OPTO.S111130

  10. Hazlett L, Suvas S, Mcclellan S, Ekanayaka S. Challenges of corneal infections. Expert Rev Ophthalmol. 2016;11(4):285-297. doi:10.1080/17469899.2016.1203254

  11. Sahinoglu-keskek N, Cevher S, Ergin A. Analysis of subconjunctival hemorrhage. Pak J Med Sci. 2013;29(1):132-4. doi:10.12669/pjms.291.2802

  12. Petsas A, Chapman G, Stewart R. Acute angle closure glaucoma – A potential blind spot in critical care. J Intensive Care Soc. 2017;18(3):244-246. doi:10.1177/1751143717701946

  13. Salama A, Elsheikh A, Alweis R. Is this a worrisome red eye? Episcleritis in the primary care setting. J Community Hosp Intern Med Perspect. 2018;8(1):46-48. doi:10.1080/20009666.2017.1418110

  14. Yenerel NM, Küçümen RB. Pregnancy and the Eye. Turk J Ophthalmol. 2015;45(5):213-219. doi:10.4274/tjo.43815

  15. Portello JK, Rosenfield M, Chu CA. Blink rate, incomplete blinks and computer vision syndrome. Optom Vis Sci. 2013;90(5):482-7. doi:10.1097/OPX.0b013e31828f09a7

  16. Talhout R, Schulz T, Florek E, Van benthem J, Wester P, Opperhuizen A. Hazardous compounds in tobacco smoke. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011;8(2):613-28. doi:10.3390/ijerph8020613

  17. Vella LD, Cameron-smith D. Alcohol, athletic performance and recovery. Nutrients. 2010;2(8):781-9. doi:10.3390/nu2080781

Additional Reading

  • 1.Wu, Brian. “Red eyes: List of common causes.” Medical News Today, 4 Mar 2017.
  • 2. Chaudhary, Omar R, MD. “What causes red eye?” Eyesmart, American Academy of Ophthalmology, 17 June 2015.


Why Are My Eyes Always Red?

Red eye

It seems your eyes are always red, and people are starting to notice. (Side-eye, much?) You left the all-nighters and partying back in your college days, so what gives? Ophthalmologist Catherine Hwang, MD, brings into focus the possible causes of your bloodshot eyes — and when you should see an eye doctor.

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  • The clues: Check the calendar, and if it’s pollen season, you may have your answer. Your eyes may also be itchy, watery or feel they are burning. Are you sneezing or stuffy, too? Then checkmate.
  • Should you see a doctor? See an allergist or ophthalmologist if you don’t know the cause of your symptoms or if you suspect allergies but aren’t sure.
  • Treatments: Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops, allergy pills and nasal sprays.

Broken blood vessels

  • The clues: “Mostpeople don’t even notice them. Their friends or family members notice, and it’susually right after the person wakes up,” Dr. Hwang relates. “It’s alittle bruise on the eye. And it often appears worse before it gets better.”
  • Should you see a doctor? Not unless it’s associatedwith pain or vision changes. If it is, “You have to go right to aneye doctor. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.”
  • Treatments: Good news! Broken bloodvessels usually clear up on their own. So sit tight and wait it out.

Dry eyes

  • The clues: Not only are those peepers red, but it feels there’s sand in them. The sensation can feel worse at night.
  • Should you see a doctor? If it’s not getting better with OTC lubricating drops, see an ophthalmologist.
  • Treatments: OTC eye drops or artificial tears, prescription eye drops and punctal plugs. Dr. Hwang explains punctal plugs: “Everyone has a tear drainage system on the inside corner of the eyes. Just you plug up a sink to keep the water in, sometimes we put a ‘plug’ in the eye to help your natural tears stay around longer.”
  • A note on potential dry eye causes: Anything that fatigues your eyes — such as too much screen time or not enough sleep — can make them overly dry.

Eye irritation

  • The clues: The windows to your soul may feela little cloudy. Or maybe you came into contact with a bug on a suicidemission. Whatever happened, something feels off or irritated.
  • Should you see a doctor? If you wear contacts, yes. Itcould be an eye infection. “We want to treat those infections quickly,” notesDr. Hwang. “Otherwise, it can turn into a bad ulcer.”Also see an eye doctor if there is pain associated with theirritation or it doesn’t get better within a day.
  • Treatments: It depends on the cause of theirritation.

Pink eye (conjunctivitis)

  • The clues: In addition to a pink eye (duh!), your eye has a burning sensation or feels itchy. It may also swell or have discharge.
  • Should you see a doctor? Definitely.
  • Treatments: If it’s viral, doctors only treat your symptoms until the infection clears up on its own. Symptom relievers include cold compresses and artificial tears to soothe the eye surface. If it’s bacterial, doctors prescribe antibiotic drops. “But it’s rarely bacterial,” Dr. Hwang says.
  • Pink eye precautions: Conjunctivitis is highly contagious, so avoid sharing towels, linens or anything that comes into contact with your eye.

When red eyes attack: See an eye doctor edition

Dr. Hwang emphasizes when in doubt, get it checked out. “Sincemost of these symptoms are similar, it’s important to see an eye doctor who candistinguish between what’s concerning and what’s not.”

Go the “better safe than sorry route” if you experience oneor more of these symptoms along with bloodshot eyes:

  • Eyes that are beet red.
  • Redness in just one eye.
  • Swelling or redness on the eyelid.
  • Eye pain.
  • Unexplained changes in vision or sensitivity to light.

Eye condition spotlight: Uveitis

Uveitis is inflammation in the eye’s iris and lining. It can cause red eyes, light sensitivity and pain. Left unchecked, uveitis can lead to eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts or even blindness. While prescription eye drops often clear it up, your eye doctor may need to run tests to find out what’s causing it.

Eye condition spotlight: Eye tumor

Rarely, there can be tumors in the eye or on the surface of the eye. They can be tricky to spot on your own, especially since you may not experience symptoms. If you have unexplained eye irritation or vision changes, see an ophthalmologist right away.

A word of caution: Just say no to eye drops marketed as “redness relievers”

Dr.Hwang says they may:

  1. Mask issues you should get checked out.
  2. Make the eyes drier and more irritated.
  3. Cause rebound redness, or rebound hyperemia.

These drops work by shrinking the blood vessels on thesurface of the eyes and reducing the blood flow to them. But less blood flowmeans less oxygen and nutrients, too. So when you stop using the drops, theblood vessels get even bigger to make up the difference. You’ll end up witheyes that are redder than before.


Definition of Red eye

Red eye

Red eye: Also called conjunctivitis. Redness or irritation of the conjunctivae, the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids and the membranes covering the whites of the eyes. These membranes react to a wide range of bacteria, viruses, allergy-provoking agents, irritants and toxic agents. Viral and bacterial forms of conjunctivitis are common in childhood.

The leading cause of a red eye is virus infection. Viral pink eye is usually associated with more of a watery discharge, not green or yellow in color, and is frequently associated with viral cold- symptoms. The eyelids may be swollen. Sometimes looking at bright lights is painful.

While viral pink eye, may not require an antibiotic, the doctor should see the child, as occasionally this form of pink eye can be associated with infection of the cornea, (the clear portion of the front of the eyeball). This infection must be correctly detected and treated.

Viral pink eye is highly contagious.

The bacteria that most commonly cause pink eye are staphylococcus, pneumococcus, and streptococcus.

Symptoms include eye pain, swelling, redness, and a moderate to large amount of discharge, usually yellow or greenish in color. The discharge commonly accumulates after sleep.

The eyelids may be stuck together requiring a warm wash cloth applied to the eyes to remove the discharge.

Chlamydia is a form a bacterial that is an uncommon form of pink eye in the U.S., but is very common in Africa and the Middle Eastern countries. It can cause pink eye in adults and neonates. It is a cause of pink eye in adolescents and adults that can be sexually transmitted.

Allergic pink eye is usually accompanied by intense itching, tearing, and swelling of the eye membranes. Frequent causes include seasonal pollens, animal dander, and dust. It is frequently seasonal, and goes along with other typical “allergy” symptoms such as sneezing, itchy nose, or scratchy throat.

Chemical pink eye can result when any irritating substance enters the eyes. Common offending irritants are household cleaners, sprays of any kind, smoke, smog, and industrial pollutants. Prompt, thorough washing of the eyes with very large amounts of water is very important.

Persistent conjunctivitis can be a sign of an uncommon underlying illness in the body. Most often these are rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Conjunctivitis is also seen in Kawasaki's disease (a rare disease associated with fever in infants and young children) and certain inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Bright redness of the whites of the eyes can also occur when the tiny blood vessels covering the whites of the eyes rupture from trauma or changes in pressure within the head (for example, after forceful laughing or vomiting, when diving under water, or even bending upside down). This condition is called subconjunctival hemorrhage, and, while it can appear impressive, it is generally harmless.



How to Get Rid of Red Eyes (Without Eye Drops)

Red eye

  • Common Causes
  • Visit Doctor
  • Best Ways to Get Rid Of
  • A Word on Eye Drops
  • FAQ

If you have ever flown on an overnight flight — one that takes off around 11 p.m. and lands at its destination the next day — you have taken a “red eye” flight. These flights earned this nickname because passengers tend to have red eyes the next morning. (Learn More)

Red eyes are usually not a major issue, but there are some concerning reasons why you may have bloodshot eyes. (Learn More)

Various treatments are available to treat red eyes. (Learn More) There are times when it is best for you to go to the doctor right away. (Learn More)

Common Causes of Red Eyes

Red eyes occur when irritation or an infection cause your blood vessels to expand. You may sometimes have one red eye, but other times, both eyes will be affected.

Red eyes are normally caused by these conditions:

  • Smoking: Smoke can release toxins that irritate the eye and cause bloodshot eyes.
  • Swimming: Pools or water treated with chlorine can trigger red eyes.
  • Pregnancy: Hormonal changes may cause decreased production of tears.
  • Sleep deprivation: This can cause your eyes to become dry and red.
  • Alcohol: It can dehydrate you, causing redness.
  • Cold and allergies: Both can result in red eyes.
  • Conjunctivitis: Known as pink eye, this is an infection of the clear layer that protects the eye.
  • Contact lenses and eye drops: These can cause dry eyes and worsen the dilation that makes your eyes appear red.
  • Corneal scratches: These are often caused by using contact lenses for too long or when sand and other items scratch the cornea.
  • Uveitis: This is inflammation of the eye’s uvea, or the middle layer of the eye.
  • Blepharitis: This is inflammation of the outer edges of the eyelid.

When You Should Visit the Doctor

Most of the things that cause you to have red eyes are not serious. Your red eyes may require medical attention if you have experienced:

  • A recent head or eye injury.
  • Vision loss.
  • Recent surgery to the eye.
  • A history of chronic pain.
  • An injury caused by chemical contact.
  • Crust or mucus around the eyes that is yellow or green in color.

You should contact your doctor if your red eyes persist for a week. Autoimmune conditions, such as psoriasis, sarcoidosis, and ulcerative colitis, may set off uveitis. Infections, such as syphilis, AIDS, tuberculosis, and herpes zoster, can also trigger this condition.

Pink eye (conjunctivitis) and blepharitis are sometimes caused by bacterial infections. Using eyes drops consistently may not help you.

You should see your doctor if you have injured your eye, or you have a hemorrhage, which looks a big red spot.

Conditions glaucoma may also cause your eyes to turn red. You will also experience blurry vision and pressure. This may only affect one of your eyes.

The Best Ways to Get Rid of Red Eyes

Some home remedies can relieve red eyes that are not caused by serious issues needing medical attention.

  • Use cold compresses. Soak a cloth in ice water, and then twist off excess water. Frozen vegetable bags can also be used.
  • Try warm compresses. Use the same process as with making a cold compress. Make sure the water is not too hot to the touch. This may stimulate more tear production, which can relieve red eye as your eyes become more lubricated.
  • Stay away from irritants. Avoid common irritants, such as smoke, pet dander, dust, chlorine, or pollen.

Other remedies might include:

  • Antibiotics that decrease inflammation in the eyelids.
  • Cholinergics, or drugs that stimulate tear production.
  • Autologous blood serum drops. These are eyedrops created from your blood. Your doctor will take a blood sample and combine it with a salt solution. They are prescribed if your eyes do not respond to other treatments. They are often used for dry eyes.
  • Changing your contact lenses. This can help if your eyes are red because of your contacts.
  • Dietary changes. Drinking more water can help you produce enough tears and enhance your overall health.

A Word on Eye Drops

There are times when eye drops will be the best way to treat bloodshot eyes. The key is to find the right kind of eye drops to treat the problem.

  • Artificial tears can help if you have dry eyes.
  • Antihistamine eye drops may be especially helpful to people who have red, itchy eyes caused by allergies. Some over-the-counter brands available are Naphcon-A or Opcon-A.
  • Vasoconstrictor drops cause blood vessels to constrict, removing red eye. However, they are known to cause “rebound red eye,” which means blood vessels may appear wider than before.

What are the common causes of red eyes?

Irritants (such as chlorine, fumes, and smoke), alcohol, contacts, swimming, pregnancy, and overuse of eye drops are common causes of red eyes. Other conditions, such as bacterial infections, hemorrhages, and inflammation, can cause you to have red eyes as well.

Are red eyes a serious health concern?

Red eyes will usually go away on their own in a week or two. When using remedies, they may even go away in a day or two.

When should I visit the doctor?

If your red eyes are accompanied by eye pain, or you have had a recent head injury, chemical injury, a reduction in vision, or history of chronic pain, you should visit a doctor for evaluation.

What are the best treatments for red eyes?

Cold or warm compresses, a change in contact lens prescription, and avoiding irritants might be enough to get rid of red, bloodshot eyes.

Eye drops can reduce eye redness. There are different kinds available that can help you, depending on the cause of your red eyes.

The best treatment for your eyes may be antibacterial medications, cholinergic medications that can increase tear production, and blood serum drops.


Red Eye. (February 2019). Mayo Clinic.

18 Reasons You May Have Red and Bloodshot Eyes. (August 2019). Verywell Health.

Eye Redness. (August 2018). MedlinePlus.

Top Treatments for Red Eyes. (August 2019). Verywell Health.

Why Eye Redness Happens and How to Treat It. (May 2016). Healthline

Dry Eyes. (March 2019). Mayo Clinic.

Home Remedies for Bloodshot Eyes—And When to See a Doctor. (October 2017). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Uveitis. (August 2018). MedlinePlus.


Redeye Worldwide

Red eye
January 6th, 2020

Redeye, the North Carolina-based leading North American independent distributor, today announces new U.S. distribution deals for physical products with The Beggars Group, Domino Recording Co. and Saddle Creek effective January 1, 2020. 

Forthcoming titles in the new deal include Grimes Miss Anthropocene (4AD), Pinegrove Marigold (Rough Trade), Dan Deacon Mystic Familiar (Domino), and Frances Quinlan wise (Saddle Creek). 

“Redeye prides itself on our relationships with our customers and label partners,” says Glenn Dicker, co-founder of Redeye.

“Over the years, we have looked at the Beggars Group as the gold standard of what could be achieved by an independent company with hard work and dedication to artists and music.

Additionally, Domino and Saddle Creek are among the many great labels we’ve stayed connected to over the years so we’re proud to now have them all as part of the family.”   

“Historically, independent labels have always seen getting records into stores as the first business decision they need to make.“ says Martin Mills, Beggars Chairman.

“But now that physical is such a small and decreasing part of the majors’ business, for indies, to whom physical, and especially vinyl, is so much more important, to partner with the majors for distribution has become arguably anachronistic.

Beggars works with great, fully independent distributors everywhere else in the world, and believes in bringing the advantages of our scale to the sector; and much as we’re sorry to leave ADA, with whom we’ve had incredible success, we’re very happy to be fully independently distributed at last in the USA.” 

“As George Harrison once sang, ‘All Things Must Pass,’ adds Matt Harmon, Beggars President.

“While our relationship with ADA has ended, we leave with feelings of close camaraderie and the memories of so many impossible successes that we have shared over the last 20+ years.

At the same time, we are massively excited for our relationship with our new physical distribution partner Redeye. Their enthusiasm for the music is infectious. We look forward to working together to bring that music to the fans for years to come.” 

“It’s been impressive to watch how Glenn Dicker, Tor Hansen, and the Redeye team have grown the company over the past decade,” says Kris Gillespie, Domino Managing Director, “and we’re very excited to be starting the new one with them as our distribution partner.” 

“Redeye feels the right place for us to be,” says Robb Nansel of Saddle Creek. “With a staff that is clearly made up of music fans and creators, we are excited to be a part of the independent community at Redeye and we look forward to growing together in the future.”  

About Redeye:

Founded 1996, Redeye has grown into one of the most respected digital and physical distribution companies in the world. Charting a course of steady, sustainable growth by developing a strong worldwide physical and digital distribution network, Redeye provides a multitude of services to its partners.

Inspired by a relentless passion for music, Redeye connects independent artists and labels to an expanding global marketplace through extraordinary customer service and sales and marketing expertise.

Redeye is represented worldwide with offices in more than 13 cities, including New York, London, Toronto, Berlin and Sydney and has its home office and warehouse in Hillsborough, North Carolina.  

About The Beggars Group:

The Beggars Group is one of the world’s largest and well-respected label groups, and is completely independent.  It was founded by Martin Mills in 1977 and he remains Chairman of the group.

Over the years, many of the world’s most respected labels have joined the fold and today it is home to 4AD, Matador Records, Rough Trade, Young Turks and XL Recordings.

Artists signed to the group’s labels over the years such as Radiohead, FKA Twigs, Adele, Kurt Vile, Queens of the Stone Age, The National, The xx, The Libertines, Pixies, Cocteau Twins, The Prodigy and more have achieved both widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. 

The Beggars Group is based in London and has multiple offices in Europe, Canada and Asia in addition to their US headquarters in New York City. There is also an office in Los Angeles, CA and a Matador office in Austin, Texas.

Beggars has been a pioneer in the digital world and had its catalogue available digitally before the end of the last century.

It self-distributes digitally and to USA indie stores, and has been instrumental in the founding and success of Merlin, A2IM, and other collective independent organizations. 

About Domino Recordings Co:

Domino Recording Co. was founded in the UK in 1993 by Laurence Bell, who is still the primary creative force.

Initially focused on releasing singles and albums by American artists in the UK (including Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Sebadoh), the label has expanded over the past decade to include offices in New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris and Sydney and has had considerable worldwide success, both commercial and artistic, with acts as diverse as Arctic Monkeys, Blood Orange, Animal Collective, Franz Ferdinand, Dirty Projectors, Real Estate, Superorganism, The Kills, and Jon Hopkins to name a few. 

About Saddle Creek:

Saddle Creek was founded in Omaha, NE in 1993 to shine a spotlight on the burgeoning music scene that was developing in eastern Nebraska. Successful early releases from Bright Eyes, Cursive, and The Faint catapulted the record label onto an international stage that resulted in over two decades of growth and expansion.

Saddle Creek continues to support musicians that we believe have the authenticity and talent to captivate and transform culture at large. We pride ourselves on creating an independent, artist-friendly environment by championing creative control and acting in the best interests of our partners.

Recent releases from Big Thief, Hand Habits, Hop Along, Sam Evian, Tomberlin and more continue to expand the cultural footprint of the label.  

Saddle Creek is based in Omaha and has staff in Los Angeles (CA), Seattle (WA), Austin (TX), and Glasgow, Scotland (UK).