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Red Eyes: The Most Common Causes and Treatment Options

Red eyes can be a frustrating and uncomfortable condition, often accompanied by symptoms such as itching, burning, and blurred vision. There are many possible causes of red eyes, but some are more common than others. The most common causes of red eyes are: allergies, infections, and eye strain.

Common Causes

Allergies: One of the most common causes of red eyes is allergies. When the eyes come into contact with an allergen, such as pollen or pet dander, the body's immune system releases histamine, which causes blood vessels in the eyes to dilate and become inflamed. Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, the medical term for red eyes caused by allergies, may include itchy eyes, watery eyes, and a burning sensation.

Infections: Another common cause of red eyes is infection. Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an infection of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye. Conjunctivitis can be caused by a variety of different types of bacteria or viruses, and symptoms may include redness, discharge, and a feeling of sand or grit in the eye.

Eye Strain: Red eyes can also be caused by eye strain. Prolonged use of computers, smartphones, and other screens can cause the eyes to become dry and irritated, leading to redness and discomfort. Additionally, reading or working in poor lighting can also cause eye strain, as the eyes have to work harder to focus.


Depending on the cause of your red eyes, treatment options may include over-the-counter or prescription eye drops, antihistamines, or antibiotics. To alleviate symptoms of eye strain, it's important to take regular breaks and make sure that your computer or phone screen is at a comfortable distance and the lighting is good.


To prevent red eyes, it's important to reduce your exposure to allergens and practice good hygiene to avoid the spread of infections. Additionally, it's important to take care of your eyes by eating a healthy diet, one that is rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients. For more information on a healthy diet for your eyes, here are some helpful links on the foods and nutrients your eyes need:  Top foods to help protect your vision - Harvard Health and Nutrition - Eye Food Information | The Canadian Association of Optometrists.

To prevent eye strain from extended digital device use, it's important to follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. Also, adjust the computer screen so that the top of the screen is at or below eye level, and the lighting in the room is not too bright or too dim.

What to do about persistent red eyes....

If you experience persistent red eyes or other symptoms, it's important to visit your eye doctor to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.