Red Eyes and How to Manage Them

Victor LopesEye Health

red eyes

by Dr. Nadine Shelton


Red Eye example

Various causes will produce a red eye

Red Eyes

A common concern accompanied by a wide range of causes are the development of red eyes. There are many reasons why people develop red eyes. Depending on the person, the appearance of red eye can look like thin red lines, a larger pink area or a bright red spot. It’s important to recognize the location and type of redness and associated symptoms when diagnosing and treating a red eye.  Below is a list of the most common causes and treatments of red eyes.

Red Eye example

Contrast between a red and healthy eye

Red Eye Issues and their Management

Eye Allergies

Red eyes caused by allergies are usually associated with tearing and or an itchy sensation. There could also be nasal symptoms such as runny nose and nasal congestion. The usual triggers for allergies could include pollen, pet dander, dust and mold. The easiest treatment is to remove the allergen causing the problem. Use artificial tears, allergy eye drops and oral over the counter medication if this is not possible. It is advised to see your optometrist for an assessment and possibly prescription eye drops, if allergy eye symptoms are not resolved within 1-2 weeks, using over-the-counter treatments.

Dry Eyes

The eye will start to feel dry if the tears are not thick enough to properly protect it from the air next to the eye as the eyelid rubs the eye ball with each blink. Tears that do not have the right texture or evaporate too fast are the common causes of dry eyes. Some patients will experience a scratchy or gritty sensation with their dry eyes, while others will complain of eyes that water too much. When the eyes feel irritated, they will produce excess watery tears to try and self-treat the dry sensation. Unfortunately this reactive excess tearing is too watery to help thicken the tears and becomes an irritant.

Using artificial tears on a regular basis will help increase the thickness of the tears and decrease the dryness sensation on the eyes. Another way to increase tear thickness is to do a warm compress on closed eyes using a wash cloth. This warms up the oil glands along the eyelashes and makes them produce more oil which in turn thickens the tear layer. See your optometrist for a check and treatment, if the symptoms are not resolving or improving within 2 weeks.

Easy treatment of Red Eye example

A warm compress on the eyelids will sooth dry eyes

Eye Infections

Conjunctivitis, which is also called known as pinkeye. It causes the eyes to become very red all over and also makes the eyelid lining red, swollen or puffy. This will be caused by either a bacteria or virus and is more common among children. Avoid touching the eyes and wash your hands frequently, is recommended as the eye produces a lot of puss (bacterial) or watery (viral) discharge and is very contagious. Antibiotic treatments such as over the counted Polysporin drops or prescription eye drops are used if caused by bacteria. The eye will not improve with antibiotics, if the infection is viral, then in this case, artificial tears and warm compresses are used for comfort. Both conditions should resolve in about 1 week, however sometimes the viral version can take up to 10 days.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

This is a burst blood vessel in the eye, which can cause a bright red area to develop on the white part of the eye. These can happen spontaneously or can appear after a cough, sneeze or doing heavy lifting. This is basically a bruise on the eye and can cause the eye to feel a bit tender to the touch and scratchy. Cold compresses and artificial tears can be used for comfort as needed. It is common for the bright red spot to fade and change colours from red to pink. As the eye heals on its own over a 5 to 7 day period. This will not affect the vision as the hemorrhage is on the conjunctiva, the white part of the eye.

Red Eye example

subconjunctival hemorrhage

Red Eyes by Abrasion

A scratch on the cornea or conjunctiva (the outer surface of the eye) can cause a reddening near and around the scratch. It will feel like there is something in the eye as the eyelid rubs against the scratched area each time you blink. It will also tear and could be sensitive to light. Abrasions need to be assessed by an optometrist and treated with prescription eye drops or a referral to an eye surgeon. A simple scratch can take about 5-7 days to heal and the use of artificial tears can be used as needed for comfort.


Please see your optometrist for a consultation or call us at nv eye care, about concerns with your red eyes. It is also important to seek professional help, if the treatment you are using is not getting better after a couple days, as you may have the wrong diagnosis or require stronger eye drops.

Eye Care at nv During COVID-19

Here at nv eye care & eye wear we are open for all your routine and emergent eye care. We limit the people in our office during COVID. It is best to call ahead or email to ensure we are not busy helping someone else. Please have a seat outside on our patio until we are done helping our present patient, if you arrive at our office and the door is closed. Once our patient leaves, we then take the time to properly disinfect all surfaces that were touched by them and then welcome you in.

Please call the Misericordia Urgent Eye Care Clinic at 204-774-6581, if you have eye issues and are feeling sick, have traveled outside the province or country in the last 14 days, have been with a person who has or for afterhours eye care. You must call us to reschedule any appointments you have made with us, if you are feeling sick.


nv store front image

nv is open for regular eye care at 698 Corydon Ave in Winnipeg, Canada

Eye Care Advice

We are here for your eye care needs during these difficult times. Do not hesitate to call or email us at nv eye care & eye wear, if you have any questions. For more answers to your vision health questions, please contact me, Dr. Nadine Shelton at nv eye care eye wear, 204-504-6863 or

Dr. Nadine Shelton, optometrist and owner of nv

The Owner

Dr. Nadine Shelton B.Sc, O.D. studied at University of Winnipeg, Canada and Indiana University, USA. She has worked abroad in Guanajuato, Mexico assisting outreach patient eye care with VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity). Her university days focused on early child eye care and low vision. Dr. Shelton has been practicing optometry for thirteen years in Winnipeg and has celebrated three years in her own practice with her partner Victor Lopes in the heart of the Corydon Village called nv. nv is a full service optical where eye exams are available and a great selection of unique to the city eye wear can be found.  Learn more at, call us at (204) 504-6863 or come see us at 100-698 Corydon Ave in Winnipeg, Canada.