Red eye is a common problem that can happen in one or both eyes. The redness comes from the blood vessels on the surface of the eye. These blood vessels expand or dilate due to irritation or disease.

Seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your eyesight changes suddenly.
  • Red eye happens with a bad headache, eye pain, fever or if light starts to hurt your eyes.
  • You also have an upset stomach or are throwing up.
  • Red eye is caused by an object or chemical splashed in your eye.
  • You suddenly begin to see circles around lights.
  • You feel as if something is in your eye.
  • You have swelling in or around your eye.
  • You cannot open or keep your eye open.

Make an appointment with a health care provider

Sometimes, having red eye for a short time is not a reason to worry. If you think the redness is caused by an over-the-counter eye drop, try a different brand or take a break from using them.

Call your health care provider for an appointment if you have red eye that doesn't clear up after several days, especially if you have thick pus or mucous for a long time.

Contact your eye surgeon if:

  • You're having eye redness with pain.
  • You've had eye surgery or an eye injection in the past.
March 10, 2023