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Red eyes mean your eyes are unhappy

Important Information About Red Eyes
Hawaiian Eye Center wants you to know that there are quite a few conditions that can cause your eyes to look red. Whenever the eye is irritated, it will become red due to the enlargement, or dilation, of the blood vessels on the surface of the eye. Common conditions that cause redness are infection, allergy, inflammation, and blood under the surface of the eye. If redness of the eye is accompanied by pain or reduction in vision, it is important to have your eyes checked immediately.


Pterygium, or “Surfer’s Eye” is a red fleshy growth on the surface of the eye which is caused by ultraviolet light damage over a number of years. Pterygium can cause redness and irritation of the eyes. This is best treated by wearing a hat and sunglasses to protect the eyes from the sun. When symptoms become bothersome, or the growth becomes large, surgical treatment is recommended. With modern pterygium surgical removal, the procedure is painless and recovery is quick. Once it heals, the eye often looks and feels much better. If pterygium is bothering you, ask us about pterygium removal.


Conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, is an infection of the surface of the eye that is common in both children and adults. It is like a cold in the eye and is capable of being passed from one person to another just like a regular cold. Treatment is often aimed at making the eyes comfortable and helping to prevent spreading it to others. Sometimes antibiotic eye drops can be helpful as well.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

Subconjunctival hemorrhage is a common condition, especially as we get older, in which there is a small amount of bleeding on the surface of the eye. Because a small amount of blood under the clear tissue that covers the eye looks very red, many people are quite frightened by this. However, it is harmless and you know that this is the problem when the eye looks blood red and doesn’t feel or see any differently than usual. These generally heal themselves on their own within one to two weeks. They can come from coughing, straining, or sneezing. If due to an injury, a thorough eye examination must be done to be sure there is no other injury to the eye.


Allergies can affect only the eyes or can be accompanied by a runny nose, sneezing, and other symptoms. Allergic eyes are generally itchy and stay red for an extended period of time. If you have an allergy affecting your eyes, there are good medications available to treat the symptoms to reduce itching and redness.


Iritis is an inflammation inside of your eye that can make the eye red, sore, and sensitive to light. This inflammation requires treatment and it is best to see your ophthalmologist if your red eye is accompanied by pain, light sensitivity, or lasts more than a few days.

Some infections and inflammations of the eye can be dangerous if left untreated. So if you have a red eye that lasts more than a few days, or if your vision is also blurred or your eye is painful, see your eye specialist as soon as you can.