Ophthalmology Associates Logo

Why Is One of My Eyes Puffy and Red?

Apr 09, 2024
Why Is One of My Eyes Puffy and Red?
Got a puffy, red eye, and wondering what’s going on? Discover common causes, treatment options, and when to seek help.

If you ever wake up with a puffy eye, don’t panic — while it’s certainly alarming, it’s also a common issue. A puffy or red eye can stem from various causes, some more serious than others.

At Ophthalmology Associates of Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, New York, Elias Aliprandis, MD, Irene Rusu, MD, and our highly experienced team specialize in diagnosing and treating a range of eye concerns. Meanwhile, we’ll explore the reasons behind your unilateral eye puffiness and redness, and offer guidance on how to address it. 

Common causes of unilateral eye puffiness and redness

Understanding what’s behind your puffy, red eye is the first step to feeling less overwhelmed and finding relief. Here are some of the usual suspects to look out for: 


One of the most common reasons your eye might act up is a reaction to allergens like pollen, dust, or pet dander. Allergy symptoms often include itchiness and watering alongside puffiness and redness. If this is the case, we recommend over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops or oral medications for quick relief. 

Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

This inflammation or infection of the eye’s outer membrane can make one eye red and swollen and produce a sticky discharge. It’s important to determine whether your infection is viral or bacterial to see if antibiotic treatment might be the solution. 


Another common cause for eye puffiness and redness could be a stye or a bacterial infection of an eyelash follicle or oil gland. This can result in a painful, swollen lump on your eyelid. Apply warm compresses several times a day to help your stye drain and heal. 

Injury or trauma 

It’s important to keep in mind that even minor injuries can cause significant swelling and redness. If your pain persists or your vision is affected, seek medical attention. 

When to worry about your symptoms 

Although having puffy, red eyes may be harmless, it’s important to be aware of certain more serious conditions that prompt medical attention. Here’s when you should seek professional help: 

Severe pain 

If your discomfort is intense and doesn’t get better with standard home care, it could indicate a more serious eye issue. 

Vision changes

Any alteration in your vision, such as blurriness or light sensitivity, warrants a visit to our office. 

No improvement 

If your eye doesn’t get better after a couple of days of home treatments, or if your symptoms get worse, it’s time to seek professional advice. 

What you can do to avoid future eye problems 

When it comes to eye troubles, prevention is always key. Here are a few key tips you can try to keep your eyes happy and healthy:

Practice good hygiene 

It’s always important to keep this in mind but don’t overlook the value of regularly washing your hands and avoiding touching your eyes to reduce the risk of infection. 

Protect your eyes

Whether you’re dealing with harsh chemicals, bright lights, or dusty environments, always remember to wear sunglasses or protective goggles. 

Stay hydrated 

Drinking enough water not only keeps you feeling good but also helps prevent puffiness by reducing fluid retention in your body.

No matter the cause of your puffy, red eye, we understand how it can disrupt your day. By recognizing potential causes and knowing when to seek assistance, you can significantly improve your recovery and comfort.

If you're ready to address your symptoms and explore treatment options, click here to set up an appointment with our team of experts today.