Red, sore, and burning eyes can be caused by allergies, infections (viruses, bacteria, and fungi), and even uveitis—inflammation inside the eyeball (uvea) resulting from infection or an autoimmune reaction. 

When redness is due to bacterial or viral infections, it is crucial to consult an ophthalmologist for appropriate therapy. These infections can present differently, with symptoms such as mucus, sensitivity to light, pain, and excessive tearing

Reddened eyes commonly indicate conjunctivitis, one of the most prevalent eye inflammations. Unfortunately, many sufferers rely on DIY remedies, such as using chamomile tea bags to soothe irritation, which can mask more serious underlying conditions and delay seeking specialist consultation. 

If redness is associated with pain, it is crucial to see an ophthalmologist promptly. Healthy eyes should not experience pain, and any discomfort could be linked to potentially sight-threatening conditions.

Examining Reddened Eyes

Reddened eyes often result from:

  • Fatigue;
  • Lack of sleep;
  • Prolonged screen time.

In some cases, redness may indicate keratitis—an infection of the cornea caused by viruses (e.g., Herpes simplex), bacteria, fungi, dry eyes, or improper use of contact lenses. If left untreated, keratitis can have serious consequences, including vision loss.

Self-administered eye drops for undiagnosed keratitis can worsen the condition and increase the risk of corneal ulcers, perforation, and severe scarring

Contact lens wearers should be particularly vigilant, as they are more prone to developing difficult-to-treat infections that may require corneal transplantation in severe cases.

Seeking immediate eye examination is essential to obtain a diagnosis and specific therapy. 

Acting promptly can help prevent severe and potentially permanent damage to vision.

Eye Pain: A Symptom to Take Seriously

Eye pain without a specific cause, such as trauma or injury, could indicate underlying eye health and vision disorders, such as:

  • Uveitis, mentioned earlier, which can lead to cataracts, glaucoma, corneal decompensation, and subsequent vision impairment or blindness.
  • Angle-closure glaucoma, a sudden form of glaucoma, which can cause intense pain in one or both eyes, accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, blurred vision, vomiting, and halos around lights. Individuals with a family history of angle-closure glaucoma are at higher risk.

Those at risk should schedule annual visits to an ophthalmologist, even in the absence of symptoms. Early detection and intervention are vital to maintaining healthy vision.