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Eye Redness and Pain: Understanding the Causes and Treatment Options

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Eye discomfort is a common concern, often manifested as a combination of eye redness and pain.

These symptoms can arise from various underlying causes, ranging from benign irritation to more serious conditions.

There are many different types of over-the-counter and prescription eye drops available to treat various causes of eye redness and pain.

This article will explore the potential triggers for eye redness and pain and distinguish between redness with or without pain.

It will also explore treatment options, including using eye drops for relief.

Eye Redness and Pain: What Does Pain and Redness in One Eye Mean

Experiencing eye pain and redness in one eye can be quite alarming.

This symptom combination may be due to several factors, such as infections, foreign bodies, allergies, or corneal abrasion.

Understanding the possible cause is crucial for effective management.

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Let’s talk about these factors in detail.


An eye infection is one of the most common culprits for redness and pain in a single eye or both eye simultaneously.

Bacterial pink eye or viral pink eye can cause redness, discomfort, and at times a burning sensation.

To explore eye infection medications, read Eye Infection Medicine: Understanding Your Options.

Foreign bodies

Another possible reason for pain and redness in one eye is the presence of a foreign body.

Tiny particles like dust, sand, or eyelashes can get trapped in the eye, causing irritation and discomfort.

These foreign bodies may sometimes scratch the eye’s surface, resulting in redness and pain.

It is vital to avoid rubbing the eye as this can worsen the pain and redness in the eye.


Putting eye drops (suffering from pollen allergy)Source: diplo_game
Putting eye drops (suffering from pollen allergy)

Allergic reactions can lead to redness and pain in one eye.

Allergens like pollen, pet, dander, or certain cosmetics can trigger an immune response in the eye, causing inflammation and discomfort.

These symptoms often come with itching and excessive tearing.

To get a better understanding of red eyes from allergies, read Red Eyes from Allergies.

Corneal abrasion

A corneal abrasion, or a scratch on the cornea, is a painful condition resulting in redness in one’s eye.

It is typically caused by minor injuries, such as forcefully rubbing the eye or accidental contact with a foreign object.

What Does Eye Redness and No Pain Mean

In contrast to pain and redness in one or both eyes, some individuals may experience eye redness without any pain.

While this may seem less concerning, it is essential to recognize that redness alone can also indicate underlying issues that should be addressed.

Dry Eye Syndrome

One common cause of eye redness without pain is Dry Eye Syndrome.

This condition arises when the eye does not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly, resulting in dryness and redness.

It can be triggered by prolonged screen time, exposure to dry or windy environments, and certain medications.

Environment factors

Environmental factors, such as exposure to smoke, pollution, or allergens, can lead to eye redness without pain.

Redness caused by these factors is often temporary and can be managed by avoiding the irritants whenever possible.

Subconjunctival hemorrhage

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is another condition that can result in redness without pain.

It occurs when a small blood vessel in the white part of the eye (sclera) breaks, leading to a red spot on the eye’s surface.

Wearing contact lenses, particularly if not cleaned or fitted, can lead to redness in the eye without pain.

Eye Drops for Pain and Redness

When eye redness and pain become troublesome, eye drops can be a valuable tool for providing relief.

These drops are available over the counter or by prescription, depending on the underlying cause of your symptoms.

To explore some home remedies for eye pain, read 5 Eye Pain Home Remedies For Quick Relief

Artificial tears

Using eyedrop (Artificial tears)Source: tirc83_from_Getty_Images
A man using artificial tears eyedrop

Artificial tears, or lubricating eye drops, are a go-to solution for redness and pain caused by Dry Eye Syndrome or environmental factors.

These drops help moisten the eye’s surface and relieve discomfort.

Antihistamine eye drops

Antihistamine eye drops are designed to alleviate eye redness and itching associated with allergies.

These drops can be particularly effective in providing quick relief from allergy-related eye symptoms.

Decongestant eye drops

Decongestant eye drops are intended to relieve eye redness by narrowing the blood vessels in the eye.

Prolonged use of decongested eye drops can lead to a condition known as ‘rebound redness’, where the eyes become even redder when the drops wear off.

Prescription eye drops

Sometimes, prescription eye drops may be necessary to address the underlying causes of redness and pain.

To learn more about over-the-counter eye drops for eye infection, read What are the Best Over The Counter Eye Drops For Infection?

If you experience any unexpected or severe side effect such eye redness or impaired vision, stop using using the eye drops and consult your doctor immediately.


Eye redness and pain are symptoms that can arise from various underlying causes.

Whether dealing with pain and redness in one eye or experiencing redness without pain, it’s essential to recognize the potential triggers and seek appropriate treatment.

Over-the-counter eye drops for mild eye redness and pain and prescription medicine for severe conditions like Glaucoma can be a valuable resource for relieving discomfort.

Still, it’s crucial to use them as directed and consult with a healthcare professional if your symptoms persist or worsen.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I relieve eye redness and pain at home?

You can try using artificial tears, applying a cold compress, and avoiding allergens to relieve mild redness and pain. However, if symptoms persist, consult an eye care professional.

When should I seek immediate medical attention for eye redness and pain?

If you experience sudden, severe eye pain, significant vision changes, or trauma to the eye, you should seek immediate medical attention for eye redness and pain.

Are eye drops effective for treating redness and pain?

Yes, eye drops can be effective in some cases, such as for allergies or dry eyes. However, the type of eye drops you need depends on the underlying cause of your symptoms. Consult an eye doctor for proper guidance.

How often should I schedule an eye examination to monitor eye health?

It’s recommended to have a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years or more frequently if you have a history of eye problems or as advised by your eye care specialist.

Can eye redness and pain be related to lifestyle factors?

Yes, factors like lack of sleep, excessive screen time, and heavy smoking can contribute to eye redness and discomfort. Making healthy lifestyle choices can help reduce the risk.

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Photo of author Janet Fudge
Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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