A red eye is usually nothing to worry about and often gets better on its own. But sometimes it can be more serious and you'll need to get medical help.


Common causes of a red eye

Lots of different things can cause a red eye.

Your symptoms might give you an idea of what's causing it.

Symptoms and possible causes

Bright red area in the white of your eye - possible cause burst blood vessel

Gritty or burning feeling, sticky eyes - possible cause conjunctivitis

Sore, blurry or watery eyes - possible cause dry eyes

Itchy, sore or red eyelids - possible cause blepharitis

Feels like there's something in your eye - possible cause ingrowing eyelashes

Swollen, drooping or twitching eyelid, or a lump on your eyelid - possible cause eyelid problem

What to do if you have a red eye

If your eye does not hurt and your sight is not affected, it's probably nothing serious. It may get better on its own in a few days.

Until it has got better:

  • try not to touch or rub your eye
  • do not wear contact lenses

You can ask a pharmacist if:

  • there's anything you can do to treat your eye yourself
  • you can buy anything to help, such as cleaning solutions or eyedrops
  • you need to see a GP

Find a pharmacy here.

See a GP if:

  • your eye is not any better after a few days
  • your child is under 2 years old

If your GP cannot find what's causing your red eye, they may refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) for tests.

Ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if:

  • your baby has red eyes and they're less than 28 days old
  • your eye is painful and red
  • you have a red eye and wear contact lenses – you could have an eye infection

Call 999 or go to A & E if you have a read eye and:

  • you have any changes in your sight, like wavy lines, flashing or loss of vision
  • it hurts to look at the light
  • you have a severe headache and feel sick
  • your eye or eyes are very dark red
  • you have injured or pierced your eye
  • something is stuck in your eye (like a piece of glass or grit)



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Selected links

NHS 111 Wales links


Eye injuries



External links

The Eyecare Trust

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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 16/10/2019 14:38:42