Red eye typically occurs when your eyes get irritated from dryness, allergies or environmental conditions. The eye’s tiny blood vessels—located on the sclera, or white part of the eye—cause the eye to turn red when inflamed.
“[Inflammation] can be [caused by] something as mild as not getting a good night’s sleep, wearing your contact lenses for too long, suffering from an allergic reaction or something more serious like an eye infection,” according to Dagny Zhu, M.D., an eye surgeon and Harvard-trained specialist in cornea, cataract and laser refractive surgery.
If you have red eyes, know that it’s typically a non-severe condition. Besides redness, common symptoms of red eye include:
- Physical pain
- Eye discharge
- Photophobia or sensitivity to bright lights
Note that red eye shares similar symptoms with conjunctivitis (or pink eye), including itchiness and eye discharge. If you suspect that you’re dealing with pink eye-related symptoms, consult with a vision care specialist such as an optometrist or ophthalmologist.