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The causes of red eyes range from minor to serious and even blinding conditions. Learn what causes red eye, warning signs and red eye treatment from the experts at Oregon Eye Specialists.

Red eye causes

Many different conditions can cause red eyes, including:

Wearing your contact lenses too much, getting something in your eye or having a scratched cornea can also cause a red eye.

Red eye warning symptoms

If you have red eye symptoms, it’s a good idea to call your doctor. Some symptoms are an emergency. Stop what you’re doing and call right away if you have:

  • A red eye and severe headache
  • Trouble opening your eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Vision loss
  • A red eye after an injury, such as a blow from a fist
  • A round white spot on your eye

Red eye treatments

Treatment for a red eye depends on the cause. Some red eye conditions can be treated at home, but others need immediate medical attention. Call your primary care doctor, eye doctor or Oregon Eye Specialists at 503-935-5580. Our doctors diagnose and treat all types of red eye at 10 convenient locations.

eye anatomy


Scleritis is inflammation of the white of the eye, called the sclera. It causes a very red eye that can be intensely painful. This is a serious condition that sometimes causes vision loss. Symptoms can include:

  • Severe, constant pain that keeps you from normal activities and sleep—It can be worse at night, in the early morning and when you move your eyes. The pain can spread to the face and even the jaw.
  • Headache
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred vision, double vision or vision loss
  • Sensitivity to light

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has more information on scleritis.

What causes scleritis?

About half of people with scleritis have an inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. It can also happen with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), lupus, herpes, HIV and Lyme disease or by itself.

How is scleritis treated?

Scleritis is treated with medication. If you have scleritis, you need treatment from an ophthalmologist.

What is episcleritis?

Episcleritis is inflammation of the tissue over the white of the eye (sclera). It can make the eyes bright red, but without the intense pain of scleritis.

If you have a red eye, call your doctor or Oregon Eye Specialists at 503-935-5580. Our experienced, caring doctors are happy to help.

Red Eye Causes & Treatment | Scleritis Symptoms

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