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Red Eyes

Red Eyes: Introduction

Red eyes are an abnormal condition in which the whites of the eyes (sclera) are red.

Red eyes are a symptom of a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions of the outer eye due to allergies, foreign body, infection, inflammation, trauma, chemical burns and other abnormal processes and conditions.

Red eyes can indicate a relatively benign condition, such as staying up late and feeling fatigued or getting a small foreign body, such as an eyelash, into the eyes. Red eyes can also be the result of a moderate condition, disorder or disease, such as dry eye or an infection called conjunctivitis. Red eyes can also accompany serious conditions that can threaten vision, such as uveitis.

Depending on the cause, red eyes can be short-term and disappear quickly, such as when red eyes occurs when a small foreign body, such as dust, is flushed out of the eye by tears. Red eyes can also be chronic and ongoing over a long period of time, such as when red eyes are due to dry eye.

Red eyes can be the result of conditions that cause inflammation, such as scleritis or uveitis. Reds eyes can also result from an eye infection, such as conjunctivitis or herpes simplex. Red eyes can also be a symptom of eye trauma, such as corneal abrasion, foreign body or chemical burns of the eyes. Subconjunctival hemorrhage is another cause of red eyes and is due to eye infection or eye trauma.

Red eyes can also be a sign of illegal or recreational drug use, such as marijuana use and alcohol intoxication.

Depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition that causes red eyes, it often occurs in conjunction with other symptoms, such as tearing and eye pain. Complications of red eyes vary depending on the underlying cause. For more details about symptoms and complications, see symptoms of red eyes.

Diagnosing red eyes and its root cause begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination, including an eye examination. An eye examination includes testing pupil response to light, visual acuity or sharpness of vision, checking the sharpness of peripheral vision, and testing the pressure inside the eye. The outer eye is examined using an instrument called a slit lamp, and the inner eye is examined using an instrument call an ophthalmoscope. Another test involves temporarily staining the eye with a special eye drop that makes a corneal abrasion or corneal ulcer visible to the clinician.

A diagnosis of red eyes and its cause can easily be delayed or missed because red eyes may be mild and for other reasons. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of red eyes.

Treatment of red eyes involves diagnosing and treating the underlying disease, disorder or condition that is causing it. Many conditions and diseases that cause red eyes can be successfully treated and cured. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of red eyes. ...more »

Red Eyes: Symptoms

Red eyes often occur with other symptoms which vary, depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition that causes red eyes.

Symptoms that accompany red eyes due to scleritis or uveitis include inflammation of the eyes, eye pain and impaired vision. Serious complications include cataracts, glaucoma and blindness.

Symptoms that ...more symptoms »

Red Eyes: Treatments

Treatment plans for red eyes are individualized depending on the underlying cause, the presence of coexisting diseases, the age and medical history of the patient, and other factors. Treatment generally involves a multifaceted plan that addresses the underlying cause, protects vision, and helps to minimize pain that occurs with red eyes.

A common cause of red eyes is eye trauma due to a ...more treatments »

Red Eyes: Misdiagnosis

Diagnosing red eyes and its cause may be delayed or missed because in some cases, red eyes may not be severe enough for a person to seek medical care. Red eyes are a symptom of many different conditions, so a thorough medical evaluation is needed to ensure an accurate diagnosis of the reason for the red eyes. ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Red Eyes

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Red Eyes?

Red Eyes: Complications

Read more about complications of Red Eyes.

Causes of Red Eyes

Read more about causes of Red Eyes.

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Red Eyes: Undiagnosed Conditions

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Misdiagnosis and Red Eyes

Chronic lung diseases hard to diagnose: Some of the chronic lung diseases are difficult to diagnose. Even the well-knowns conditions such as asthma or lung cancer...read more »

Red Eyes: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Red Eyes

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Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Red Eyes, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Red Eyes: Rare Types

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Red Eyes: Animations

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