Red eyes


Red eyes are common and can be due to several things. For example, it may be due to inflammation or superficial bleeding in the eye. Usually, the trouble goes away by itself but sometimes you may need treatment of red eyes.

Different types of red eyes

Red eyes are due to dilated or broken blood vessels in the eye white. Then the eye usually looks red and irritated. If a blood vessel has ruptured, you may see a blood-red area that covers all or part of the eye white.

You may have other symptoms at the same time as you have red eyes. For example, it could be:

  • It hurts the eye.
  • It itches in the eye.
  • The eye is swollen.
  • It flows from the eye.
  • It is messy in the eye.
  • Your vision is getting worse.

What could it be?

Red eyes can depend on many things.

In this text, you can read about 

  • problems with the eyelid, such as a wobble or eyelid inflammation
  • various infections and inflammations of the eye
  • allergic eye problems
  • rubbish in the eye
  • eye problems if you wear contact lenses
  • blood vessels in the eye that have broken.

It is unusual but red-eye may also be due to narrow-angle glaucoma. Then the eye becomes sharply red, you get impaired vision and it hurts a lot. Read more about narrow-angle glaucoma here.

When and where should I seek care?

Most people who get red eyes do not need to seek care but the hassles usually go by themselves.

If any of the following is true of you, contact a health care provider:

  • You have problems with red and sticky eyes that have not gone over after five days, even though you have tried to alleviate the problems yourself.
  • You have problems with irritated eyelids that have not gone over after a week, even though you have tried to relieve the problems yourself.
  • A blood vessel in the white eye has ruptured and the red area has not disappeared after one week in children or two to three weeks in adults.
  • You have red, runny and swollen eyes that do not go over, even though you have tried to relieve the trouble yourself with non-prescription allergy medicines.

It is often not in a hurry if it is a weekend you can wait until it is every day.

If any of the following is true of you, contact a health care center or an on-call clinic:

  • The eye turns red while you have blisters on your face.
  • The eye becomes red at the same time as it hurts and scratches the eye.
  • There have been rubbish in the eye that you cannot rinse off yourself.
  • The eye becomes red at the same time as you get impaired vision.

If it is night, you can wait until the reception opens.

Seek care at an emergency room if any of the following is true:

  • The eye becomes red, at the same time as you get impaired vision and it hurts the eye.
  • A child younger than one month has permanent, swollen, red eyes or blisters around the eyes.

Depending on the problems you have with your eyes, different examinations are done.

Often the doctor does a basic examination of the eyes. It consists of an eye examination, an examination of the eye with a microscope and a pressure measurement of the eye. The basic examination takes between 10 and 20 minutes and does not hurt.

Sometimes you can do a special survey. It depends on what trouble you have. 

Sty in the eye

A common eye disorder that can cause red eyes is a  blur.  Then a sebaceous gland at the eyelid has become inflamed. Then you may notice the following inconvenience:

  • There is a swelling on the eyelid edge, a so-called outer vagina.
  • There is a swelling on the front of the eyelid, which sits deeper in the eyelid, a so-called inner wobble.
  • The swelling is usually red.
  • The swelling can feel sore.
  • Sometimes the wobble can scratch the eye.

What can I do for myself?

You who have a weasel can try to warm the eyelid with warm water in the shower, for example. Then massage the eyelid with light fingertips, first from top to bottom and then from side to side. The heat from the shower and massage opens up the sebaceous gland and makes healing faster.

A wobble is usually just sore and irritating in the first few days. It may then remain for a week before disappearing completely.

Read more about the wobble in the eye and how to treat it.

Eye ointment against dry eyelid edges

The risk of having vagaries increases if you have dry eyelid edges. You can prevent it by lubricating the eyelid rim with softening eyelash. It is available for purchase at a pharmacy free of charge.

Eyelid Inflammation

Red eyes may also be due to inflammation at the edge of the eyelid. It is called eyelid inflammation or blepharitis.

You can have eyelid inflammation if you have any of these problems:

  • Eyelid edges and eyes are red.
  • It itches in the eyes and eyelid edges.
  • It scatters the eye.
  • Eyelid edges may become swollen.
  • Small crusts can form in the eyelashes.

It is common for the trouble to come back and that you have a problem for a long time.

What can I do for myself?

You can try to avoid certain situations and places that can cause eyelid inflammation. For example, it could be:

  • Avoid staying in smoky or dreary environments.
  • Avoid being in rooms with dry air.
  • Do not wear makeup.
  • Do not swim in swimming pools with chlorine.
  • Avoid other things that may irritate the eyes.

If the trouble does not disappear

You can bathe your eyelids morning and evening with compresses or with a soft towel with lukewarm water. Then massage the eyelid edges with the same towel. It is also good to lubricate the eyelid edges with moisturizing ointment, which is available for purchase at a pharmacy without a prescription.

If you also have dry eyes

It is common to also have dry eyes in case of inflammation of the eyelids. Then you can try tear substitutes available to buy at a pharmacy without a prescription.


It is common to get an eye infection in conjunction with a cold. Then it is common to have these problems:

  • The eye sticks again because it is formed in the eye.
  • The white of the eye turns red.
  • You usually get eye inflammation in both eyes.
  • You often have red and running eyes for a few days before it begins to form where.

Eye inflammation is common in children.  The disease is most contagious among children who are between one and six years old because they often play close together. Older children and adults do not have the same close contact but can also infect each other.     

What can I do for myself?

An eye inflammation when it has formed was usually going over within a few days if you wash your eyelids and eyelashes. Do this:

  • Wash away was with, for example, a soft paper or cotton swab moistened in lukewarm water.
  • Bacteria and scab usually get stuck in the bottom of the eye to the nose. Therefore, wash from the outer corner of the eye to the inner corner of the eye. This way you avoid getting bacteria and scratching your eye.
  • You can soak a cotton swab or compress and apply it on the eye if the eyes stick together. Then the item usually dissolves and loosens a bit, and is easier to wipe away.
  • It is good to change pillows frequently and to have your own towel to reduce the risk of infection.

In pharmacies, there are prescription eye ointments that you can try. There are several types of ointments that act in different ways, some are softening and others inhibit the growth of viruses and bacteria. It is important that you do not use the ointment for longer than stated on the package.


No treatment is usually needed. This applies to both eye inflammation due to viruses and eye inflammation due to bacteria.

Some viral infections do not go away by themselves. Some examples are the herpes virus in the eye. Then you need treatment.

Sometimes you may be treated with antibiotic drops or ointment if the eye inflammation is due to bacteria.

Corneal infection

An infection of the cornea is called keratitis. The infection causes the following problems:

  • It hurts the eye.
  • The eye tears are more than usual.
  • You can get hurt and hard to tolerate light.
  • The sight deteriorates on the eye.
  • You usually get the infection only in one eye.
  • The white of the eye is usually blasted.

May be caused by eye debris or contact lenses

Corneal infection may be due to you several things. For example, it could be any of these:

  • You use contact lenses.
  • You’ve got junk in your eye.
  • You have suffered superficial damage to the cornea.
  • You have a herpes infection in the eye that can cause an infection of the cornea.

In the case of a severe infection, a scar can be formed on the cornea that can cause permanent deterioration of the eye’s vision. How much the vision deteriorates depends on where on the cornea the scar is located and how transparent the scar is.  


You need to be treated immediately by an eye specialist if the infection is due to bacteria, as it is a serious condition.

A  herpes infection in the eye is often not quite as serious, but also requires prompt treatment with drugs. It can be in the form of eye drops or ointment or as tablets.

Inflammation of the Rainbow

The rainbow gives the eye its color. The Rainbow is also called iris. In the middle of the iris, there is a round opening called the pupil. Muscles in the elbow change the size of the pupil and control how much light is let into the eye.

Inflammation of the rectum is called iritis. Then you may notice the following inconvenience:

  • It hurts in and around the eye.
  • The white of the eye turns red.
  • The pupil is usually smaller than in a healthy eye and can sometimes become angular.
  • Vision deteriorates and you become more sensitive to light.

In the case of iris inflammation, the iris may stick to the lens of the eye so that the pupil border is stuck. This means that the pupil can no longer resize.

The symptoms of red eyes almost always come in one eye only and can develop from no inconvenience at all to a lot of pain in a few hours. It is important that you get treatment quickly if you have irritation.


The treatment is to widen the pupil with eye drops. The pupil border does not get stuck in the lens if the pupil dilates.

You also get cortisone drops that stop inflammation.


Red eyes may also be due to allergies. The most common form of allergic eye problems is due to allergies to pollen, dust,  mites or pets. You may notice the following symptoms of red eyes if you have allergic eye problems:

  • My eyes are itching.
  • The eyes turn red.
  • The eyes flow.

You usually get trouble in both eyes. You can also have trouble just in one eye. Then it is usually due to a so-called contact allergy. This means that you have received a substance that you are allergic to in just one eye.

What can I do for myself?

There are several things you can do in case of allergic disorders:

  • You can try non-prescription medicines for allergic eye disorders, if you have no other allergic disorders, for a maximum of two weeks.
  • You can take the medicine throughout the pollen season if you know that it is the pollen that is the cause of your eye problems.
  • Avoid contact with animals that you are allergic to, and do not have fur animals at home if you are allergic to fur animals.

Rubbish in the eye

It is common to get the junk in the eye. It can scratch and the eye may turn red if the garbage gets stuck under the eyelid. It is common for the eye to tear and sometimes the eye is rinsed clean by itself with it.

What can I do for myself?

Sometimes the rubbish is not rinsed off by itself, then you can try rinsing the eye with saline solution.  It is good if you can blink a few times while rinsing your eye. 

Seek treatment of red eyes at a health care center if the junk is still left after you try to rinse it. Do not try to remove it yourself.

Treatment of red eyes

At the medical center, the doctor looks for any debris in the eye. Then you get eye drops that stun the eye. Thereafter, the doctor may try to remove the debris with a special instrument. They can also try to flush the debris out with the lukewarm saline solution.

Sometimes the doctor does not find any rubbish in the eye even though it feels like it is left. This is because there has been superficial damage to the eye of the garbage that was sitting there previously. Then they usually rinse the eye with saline.

Sometimes you can have eye drops or an ointment to take home.


Eye rubbing can cause a corneal ulcer. It can lead to an infection of the cornea, which is called keratitis.

Read more about keratitis under the heading Infection in the cornea.


You may have eye problems if you wear contact lenses and have had the lenses in your eyes for a long time. Then it is good to remove the lenses and rest their eyes from them until the trouble has passed.

The eye problems can also be because you have got debris or bacteria in your eye. Then you may need to use eye drops or eye ointment for a few days.

Serious eye infections are rare due to contact lenses. But contact lenses increase the risk of corneal infection, called keratitis. The risk is clearly higher when using round-the-clock lenses.

Contact an optician for more severe problems

Remove the lenses and ask an optician or doctor for any of the following:

  • Your vision is affected
  • It formed was in the eye
  • It feels like it is scratching the eye.

Take a new pair of lenses after having an eye infection

If you have had an eye infection, it is important that you take a new, unused pair when you start using lenses again. Otherwise, there is a great risk that you will get the infection back. 

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