Reddened eyes (red eyes) – causes, treatment

Reddened eyes (red eyes)

Red eyes or reddened eyes are among the most common complaints that patients complain about in connection with their eyes. Often, together with the redness of the eye, tears and itching occur, which is very unpleasant for the patient. Therefore, it is advisable to visit an ophthalmologist quickly to find out the cause and initiate appropriate treatment for red eyes.

What are reddened eyes?

The ophthalmologist speaks of reddened eyes or red eyes when the eyeball has a reddish discoloration. Red eyes are a symptom that the veins of the eyes are more supplied with blood.

Reddened eyes can be an indication of various diseases or causes. In any case, an ophthalmologist should be consulted as soon as possible to initiate appropriate treatment of the red eyes.


Red eyes can have numerous, different causes. Often reddened eyes are due to conjunctivitis, which is caused either by an allergy or bacterial infection.

Especially in children, red eyes as a symptom of conjunctivitis can also occur as a side effect of a cold or an infection. In addition to the redness of the eye, other symptoms such as itching or tearing usually occur. Conjunctivitis is also conspicuous by glued eyelid edges after sleeping.

But even dry ambient air can lead to red eyes. In some cases, the red eye is also due to a ruptured vein, for example caused by a speck of dust. In addition, there are viral infections of the eye such as a herpes infection or injuries and foreign bodies in the eye, which must be considered as the cause of reddened eyes.

Contact lenses can also irritate the eyes so much that redness appears in the eye. Since red eyes can also be a symptom of serious eye diseases such as glaucoma, the exact cause of reddened eyes must be clarified by an ophthalmologist.

Diseases with this symptom

Diagnosis & course

The diagnosis of red eyes is made by an ophthalmologist who thoroughly examines the eye and queries the symptoms in the patient. If conjunctivitis is suspected, the ophthalmologist takes a swab from the reddened eye. He can determine whether the red eye is due to an allergy or an infection with bacteria or viruses.

Diagnosis should be made within 24 hours of the appearance of redness at an ophthalmologist, as reddened eyes can also be a sign of other serious eye diseases.

The fastest possible treatment is required for these in order to have a good chance of recovery. If the underlying disease is treated quickly, a significant improvement in the red eyes usually occurs within a short time.


When defining the complication, the responsible mood disorder should be discussed. A complication in the medical field is a consequence of a disease or undesirable effect of a medical preparation when used against the same health disorder. Complications may therefore come from a misdiagnosis or medical intervention.

Reddened eyes are the common complication of various diseases such as viral infections, allergies and dry eyes. Reddened eyes can also burn and itch in the course of these diseases. Reddened eyes are caused by inflammation or defensive reactions of the body. Complications such as dry eyes often occur as a side effect of certain eye drops and in physically weakened or elderly patients. Reddened eyes can be a warning sign of allergies. In order to exclude serious diseases and their complications, the appearance of suspicious complaints should call for ophthalmological examination.

Sometimes the patient should be hospitalized as part of the prevention or acute treatment of possible eye injuries or progressive eye diseases. The concept for outpatient treatment against the original disorder can be developed. Reddened eyes are basically just a complication of many eye diseases, from very mild to endangering vision. Avoiding dry air, avoiding nicotine and preventive eye exams can avoid the cause of reddened eyes. Some drugs, such as antidiabetic drugs, cause visual disturbances and reddened eyes.

When to go to the doctor?

With reddened eyes or red eyes, the whites of the eyeball appear reddish. The intensity of the discoloration varies from person to person. Reddened eyes are not an independent eye disease, but a symptom. The causes of reddened eyes are numerous and not always a reason for visiting the doctor. In some cases, however, a medical clarification is strongly recommended.

Harmless causes of red eye include dry indoor air, wind, and the ingress of dust, sand, or small insects. Here it is enough to wait and see. Experience has shown that avoiding or removing the suspected triggers is sufficient. If the redness of the eyes does not improve, it is time for a doctor’s visit. Even with colds or certain allergies such as hay fever, reddened eyes often occur. Here, a treatment of the underlying disease usually already takes place.

The situation is different when larger foreign bodies or even chemicals have entered the eye. Then a doctor must be consulted immediately to prevent permanent damage up to an imminent loss of vision. Other causes of reddened eyes requiring treatment include a herpes infection and glaucoma, also known as glaucoma. If none of the harmless causes mentioned at the beginning exist, an should always be consulted immediately as a precaution in the case of good eyes.

Treatment & Therapy

Reddened eyes are treated according to the underlying disease or problem. If red eyes develop due to an allergy, the ophthalmologist usually resorts to anti-allergic or cortisone-containing eye ointments and, in severe cases, to anti-allergic tablets.

If the red eyes are triggered by a bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe eye drops containing an antibiotic and thereby kill the bacteria. If the redness is dry eyes, the use of artificial tear fluid often helps. This supplies the red eye with fluid and thus counteracts redness.

In the case of contact lens wearers, reddened eyes are often due to exceeding the wearing time, which is why they should refrain from wearing the contact lenses for a few days. A change of care product and the use of artificial tear fluid can also significantly improve the wearing properties of contact lenses and avoid reddened eyes.

Outlook & Forecast

As a rule, there are no special complications or problems with red eyes. Since the reddened eyes are often mainly due to and excessive strain on the eyes, the symptom disappears even if the trigger has disappeared. Without treatment, rest and plenty of sleep lead to a recovery of the eyes. It may happen that a vein bursts in the eye. This is not bad, the vein heals within a few hours.

Treatment can take place with eye drops. A positive prognosis is also possible. The situation is different if the reddened eyes have appeared very suddenly, are associated with severe and other complaints such as visual disturbances or nausea. In this case, it is necessary to immediately visit an eye clinic, it is an acute glaucoma. This must be treated by an emergency doctor.

If ruptured veins in the eye occur more frequently, this is due to high blood pressure in the eye. Treatment then takes place with medication. In the worst case, reddened eyes lead to conjunctivitis or inflammation of other regions of the eye if not treated.


To prevent red eyes, it is advisable to ensure that the ambient air in the room is not too dry. If you do your work on a computer, you should make sure that you get fresh air often and do eye exercises to relieve your eyes from time to time. In general, a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet can help prevent eye diseases and reddened eyes.

You can do that yourself

Red eyes can have many triggers. Whether and what the patient himself can do about this condition depends on its causes. If the red eyes are the result of hay fever , it is important to clarify with the help of an Allergist which pollen the patient is allergic to. Those affected must also get used to studying pollen forecasts and, if possible, not leaving the house or office unnecessarily on days with high levels of pollution. If you live in a rural area, you should also check whether the allergens are blooming in your own garden or in that of your neighbour. The weeds should then be removed.

If other contact allergies or Food Intolerances are the reason for the red eyes, it is also important to identify the irritants and then avoid them. People who put make-up on their eyes should try to avoid it. The related Cosmetics or make-up removal products are often the reason for the eye irritation.

Staying in heavily heated, dry rooms and working at a computer can dry out the eyes. It helps to ventilate work and recreation rooms regularly. Sufficient breaks must be taken when working on screens, and blinking should not be forgotten. In stubborn cases, artificial tears from the Pharmacy can help .

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.