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How Come You’ve Got a Red Eye?

It can be very annoying to have a red eye […]

By Published On: 13 September 20112.6 min read

It can be very annoying to have a red eye (or worse still two red eyes) and to have people look at you quizzically for a moment before saying exactly what you know they are about to say “How come you’ve got a red eye?”

Occasionally an eye will show blood (which you may not know about until someone tells you or you see yourself face-on in a mirror) on the sclera, the white part of the eye; if there is no pain as well as no vision impairment it will probably disappear within a week. It can be caused by coughing or straining, as well as high blood pressure, but a visit to the pharmacy for over the counter eye drops will help recovery a bit quicker, and after a few days of yellowish colour, all will clear up. But if it doesn’t clear up, there might be something more to it.

If the eye is red in a general sense, and doesn’t start to clear up after a few days, then it could be one of a few things – some are serious that need immediate attention whilst others are not anything to worry about. It’s quirky that the amount of redness is NOT a guide to the seriousness of the disorder.


The most common reason for the occurrence of persistent red (or more like pink) eye in one or both eyes is from contraction of some form of conjunctivitis – in fact that is what most people will think you have got – an infection of some kind.

If indeed you are suffering from conjunctivitis it will most likely to have been caused by a virus, bacteria, allergy or on occasion even Chlamydia. The first thing to do of course is – you guessed it – see your doctor, who may choose to refer you to a specialist optometrist. Be warned – conjunctivitis can be VERY contagious!

Dust and dirt being rubbed into the eye

It could be that the red eye has been caused by some kind of grit or dust, in which case there will be little or no need to investigate for infections, instead washing the eyes and using eye drops.

Dry Eyes

If tear ducts aren’t working properly and the eyes become too dry, they can become irritated, especially with rubbing, and inflamed. Continued dryness makes the situation worse.

Use of contact lenses

Initial use of contact lenses can cause irritation and red eye.

Older people who have had prolonged use of contact lenses can also for no reason exhibit the condition.

Over-use of eye drops

Tired red eyes can be treated by over the counter drops from the pharmacy, which carry a dosage frequency recommendation. Over use can make things worse by dilating the blood vessels.


Bacteria forming along the eyelashes can cause irritation and itching, which further causes the eyes to redden. It can be readily treated using a basic cleanliness regime.

Acute Glaucoma

This is one of the serious conditions, and it’s important to get treatment straight away.

Usually one eye becomes red, and is very painful.


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