Understanding Red Eye: Causes - Fairview Health Services
 
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Understanding Red Eye: Causes

Do your eyes sometimes get red and irritated? This could be a sign of irritation or infection. The inside of your eyelid and the white of your eye are covered with a membrane called the conjunctiva. When your eye is irritated or infected, the blood vessels in this membrane swell. This condition is called conjunctivitis. You may also think of it as red eye or pink eye.

Front view of eye showing conjunctiva covering white of eye. Swollen blood vessels in conjunctiva.

Irritation

Allergies and environmental irritants are common causes of inflamed eyes. Injuries, objects in the eye, some eyedrops, makeup, contact lenses, and diseases inside the eye can also cause the eyes to become inflamed.

Infection

Viruses and bacteria can cause eye infections. Infection may begin in the eye or elsewhere in the body, such as the nose or throat. Sexually transmitted diseases can also cause eye infections.

 

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