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Why Are My Kid’s Eyes Red?

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A female child with red eyes is covering her nose with a tissue and looks like she has allergies.

Redness is your eye’s natural response when it becomes irritated or infected. Sometimes, red eyes will be the only symptom you’ll experience, and, other times, it can come with other symptoms like dryness, itchiness, or pain. Most of the time, red eyes actually look a lot worse than they feel. 

If you’ve noticed that your kid’s eyes are looking a little red, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a cause for concern. Red eyes can be the result of something as simple as getting a little dust in the eye, or it can be a sign that your child has an underlying eye condition that needs attention.

So how do you know? Keep reading our blog article to learn more about what causes eye redness in children and how to know when to bring them in to see their eye doctor.

A Proper Diagnosis is Key

There are a number of reasons why your child may be experiencing eye redness. The only way to tell for sure is by booking an eye exam with their optometrist. 

Whether it’s a routine eye exam, or you’re bringing them in because they have symptoms, our team will always examine your child’s entire visual system to get a clear picture of their eye health. Then, when we understand the root cause of their symptoms, we’re able to recommend a treatment plan personalised to their specific needs. 

Common Causes of Red Eyes in Children

What’s causing red eyes in your kid? Some common causes of red eyes in children include: 

Pink Eye

Bacterial or viral conjunctivitis, better known as pink eye, occurs when the conjunctiva in the eye becomes inflamed or infected. While pink eye can be uncomfortable, it typically doesn’t affect long-term vision.

If your child has pink eye, you may notice symptoms such as:

  • Red eyes
  • Burning or itching eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Light sensitivity 
  • Excessive tearing 
  • Discharge from the eyes

Pink eye can be extremely contagious, so it’s important to limit the spread as much as possible. Luckily, proper treatment can help ease the discomfort your child is feeling and get them back to seeing clearly and comfortably. 

Corneal Abrasions

Corneal abrasions are scratches on the cornea, the clear part of the eye. Corneal abrasions can cause eye redness, eye pain, and a gritty feeling in the eye. 

If your child has a corneal abrasion, it’s imperative that they receive emergency eye care to protect their vision and eye health. 

Corneal abrasions can happen in a variety of scenarios, so it’s important to protect your children’s eyes, especially if they’re active. If your child is at risk for injuring their eyes, consider protective eyewear

Foreign Body in the Eye 

From specs of dust to bigger objects, foreign bodies in the eye can be irritating, uncomfortable, and dangerous.

If your child has something stuck in their eye, don’t try to remove it yourself! Instead, call your optometrist or nearest medical clinic to ensure your child is seen by a doctor right away.   


Blepharitis is the inflammation of the edge of the eyelids. Blepharitis commonly occurs when the tiny oil glands lining the eyelid near the eyelashes become clogged, causing irritation and redness.

Blepharitis can be caused by a number of eye conditions and can be difficult to treat, but it typically doesn’t won’t affect vision long-term. 


Allergies can cause a variety of symptoms, one of them being red eyes. If your child has red eyes caused by allergies, they’ll most likely be accompanied by other symptoms, such as:

  • Swollen or itchy eyes
  • Burning eyes
  • E​​xcessive tearing
  • Sensitivity to light 
A female doctor that is sitting in her chair is closely examining the red eyes of a female child that is standing in front of her.

When to See a Doctor

If your child has red eyes, it might not be an immediate concern but it’s best to bring them in to see their eye doctor just to be safe. 

If your child has any of the following symptoms in addition to eye redness, please book them an appointment right away:

  • Their vision changes suddenly
  • They have a severe headache or eye pain
  • They have a fever or feel nauseous 
  • The eye redness is due to an injury or chemical splashed in their eye
  • They feel as if something is in their eye or have a foriegn object in their eye 
  • Their eyes are swelling 
  • They’re unable to open their eye or keep their eye open

We’re Here to Help

At Calgary Optometry Centre, our team combines knowledge, experience, and compassion to give your little one the best eye care experience possible.

No matter what their vision needs are, we’re always here to help. Visit our website to learn more about our dedication to paediatric eye care or to book your child’s next appointment. We can’t wait to see you! 

Written by Dr. Kent Prete

An active member of the Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Alberta Association of Optometrists, and the Alberta College of Optometrists, Dr. Prete lives his passion every day when he sees his patients. Dr. Prete has spoken at over 100 professional events over the last almost 20 years. A keen educator and confident doctor, Dr. Prete is nearly as passionate about educating other eye care professionals as he is about caring for and educating his patients!
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