5 Most Common Causes of Red Eyes

One of the leading eye issues in adults is red eyes, and it’s on the rise for children, too. You can easily identify when you have red eyes, as the sclera, or the white portion of your eye, becomes bloodshot or a reddish pink color. But what causes this condition? Is it something you should be concerned about?

The team at Nicholas Rutkowski, OD and Associates wants you to be informed about when it’s time to get your eyes checked. So in this blog post, we’re discussing the five most common causes of red eyes.


Perhaps the most common reason for red eyes is allergies. Approximately 50 million Americans suffer from various allergies, so it’s not surprising that they could be causing your case of red eyes. Outdoor and indoor allergies alike can make your eyes itch, burn, and even tear up, resulting in irritation and redness. This is especially true if you have the tendency to rub your eyes when they’re itchy.

If your allergies are mild enough, your doctor may recommend taking an antihistamine. That may be all you need to clear up your red eyes. If they’re more severe, a prescription for stronger allergy medications may be necessary.

Dry eye

Sometimes your tears may not moisturize your eyes well enough, or you may not produce enough tears to begin with. These issues can lead to dry eye, which requires a trip to the doctor to remedy. If left untreated, not only will your eyes become irritated and painful, but your vision may also become blurry, and there is the possibility of developing ulcers on your cornea.

If you think you may suffer from dry eye, it’s important to get your eyes examined by Dr. Rutkowski in order to avoid exacerbating the problem. During your examination, Dr. Rutkowski identifies the cause and recommends the best treatment for you. It could be something as simple as a lifestyle change, or eye drops.

Eye infections

Infections can occur in your eyelid, cornea, or conjunctiva, the mucous membrane covering the inside of your eyelid and the front of your eye. The infection can present differently, depending on which part of your eye is affected. In addition to redness, you may notice burning, itching, pain, tenderness, light sensitivity, or even discharge.

Common eye infections include conjunctivitis (or pink eye), styes, keratitis, and blepharitis. Paying attention to your eye health and making sure your hands are clean before touching your eyes can help prevent eye infections. If you think you have an eye infection, see your doctor right away to begin treatment.

Contact lenses

Your contact lenses can cause your eyes to become irritated and red if they’re old, if you wear them for too long without giving your eyes a break, or if you don’t practice good contact lens hygiene. Keep in mind that your eyes are not naturally accustomed to having something put directly onto them, and you need to do certain things to keep your eyes in good health when doing so.

For example, make sure your hands are clean before putting in or taking out your contact lenses. Rotate your contact lenses out either daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on the kind of disposable lenses you get. In other words, if you’re prescribed daily lenses, don’t wear them weekly, and so on. Stay on top of your rotation schedule and hygiene to help prevent issues from occurring.

Computer vision syndrome

Also known as having too much screen time, computer vision syndrome is becoming a more prominent cause for red eyes, including in children. These days, we spend more time looking at screens than ever before, whether we’re at work or school, relaxing at home, or somewhere in between. All this screen time can lead to red eyes, as well as dry eye and blurry vision.

Setting a schedule for yourself and your children is a great way to reduce the symptoms of computer vision syndrome. Taking a break to read a book or go for a walk can give your eyes the rest they need. Another good practice to employ while looking at screens is the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look at something that’s 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help relax your eyes and avoid irritation. It might not hurt to consider getting blue light-blocking glasses as well.

Whether you come in for a routine eye exam or to get treatment for red eyes, our team at Nicholas Rutkowski, OD and Associates has you covered. With offices in Frankfort and Bourbonnais, Illinois, we’re conveniently located and ready for your visit. Contact us by calling one of our locations or booking your appointment online today.

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