What Causes Red Eyes in Photos?

What Causes Red Eyes in Photos? 65bba253011b3.jpeg

What Causes Red Eyes in Photos?

There’s nothing more frustrating than finally getting the perfect picture just to find out that the end result has you looking like a red-eyed demon. Sure, there might be apps that can fix that bright red sparkle in your eye, but that’s an extra step most of us don’t want to take – we want to post that photo right away!

With that being said, most people have a lot of questions in regards to red eyes in photos… What causes red eyes in photos and why does it happen? How can we prevent red eyes in a photo? And better yet, how can we fix red eyes after a photo has been taken? The average person doesn’t have an answer.

Don’t worry – that’s what we’re here for. At Milwaukee Eye Surgeons, we understand how important the eyes are to a good photo and there’s nothing we want more than for your photos to turn out perfect every single time. Considering all the confusion surrounding
red eyes in photos, let’s clear some of it up for you!

Why Do Eyes Look Red In Photos?

For those of you trying to figure out why eyes illuminate red in some photos but not others, the reasoning is actually quite simple – and pretty neat. It generally happens at night or in a dimly-lit room with flash photography, which is why your environment is so important when taking a quality photo.

To accommodate for the lack of ambient light, the eye’s pupil is often widened and dilated. When the camera flash goes off, that light travels through the cornea and lens before refracting onto the retina in the back of the eye. Normally, the pupils contract to limit the amount of light passing through to the back of the eye.

Unfortunately, the pupils don’t have enough time to contract when a camera’s flash goes off. While some of the light is absorbed by the retina, the rest of the light travels back to the camera lens. This phenomenon is then captured on film and appears red because of the choroid, connective tissue with a rich blood supply of blood vessels.

In simpler terms, the camera’s flash reflects off the retina and flashes back to the camera while passing through the blood-rich retina – a phenomenon that gets caught on film. For some animals, you might see a white or yellowish glow due to the tapetum lucidum.

How to Prevent Red Eyes in Photos

Believe it or not, preventing red eyes in photos is far easier than trying to fix red eyes after a photo has already been taken. While the simple solution is to avoid using flash when taking a photo, that’s not always possible – especially at night or in a low-light environment. This is where the challenge begins.

Don’t worry, there are a variety of tricks, tips, and practices that can help you prevent this phenomenon:

  • Lighten the environment to contract the pupils and restrict the amount of light that passes through
  • Tell the subject not to look directly at the camera – that way, the light doesn’t reflect back at the camera
  • If your camera has an anti-red-eye function, make sure it’s turned on when using a flash
  • Use a detachable flash so it’s not pointed directly at the subject(s)

One of the most frustrating things about eyes appearing red in a photo is that you never know if it’s going to happen until after the photo is taken – at which point, you’re met with disappointment and are forced to take another one (if possible). With the right environment, you can properly prevent this from happening.

How to Fix Eyes That Look Red in Photos

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you try to avoid or prevent red eyes in a photo – they appear anyway. And while sometimes it makes sense to go back and take another photo, that’s not always possible. Don’t worry, your photo isn’t necessarily ruined forever – you still have a shot at reviving it.

Here are some of the most notable and proven ways of correcting or fixing red eyes in a photo:

  • Digital Camera – when using a digital camera, you’ll need to download the photo onto a computer and use an image-editing software to remove the red eyes from the photo. You can also transfer the photo to a smartphone and use an app (see below).
  • Smartphone Camera – many smartphones have an automatic red eye correction tool that fixes red eyes as they occur, but you can also download an app that’ll do it for you (if there’s no automatic feature).
  • Printed Photos – when trying to fix red eyes in a printed photo, you can use a special red eye remover pen to manually correct the problem, or you can scan the photo onto your computer and use an image-editing software.

Red eyes, or ‘devil eyes’ as some people like to call them (also known as the ‘red eye effect’), can turn a great photo into a disaster – a disappointment, rather. With that said, it’s not the end of the world and there are ways around it – even after the photo is taken. It might be an extra step that no one really wants to take, but it’s 100% worth it!

When to See an Eye Doctor for Red Eyes

Eyes that illuminate red in a photo won’t require a doctor’s visit – it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your eyes and, in fact, usually means your eyes are working normally. With that said, there are a variety of eye conditions that can cause red eye symptoms in-person (not necessarily just in a photo).

This occurs when the white part of the eye – known as the sclera – becomes red and appears bloody. This could be the result of a burst blood vessel, conjunctivitis,
dry eyes, blepharitis, an ingrowing eyelash, or a problem with the eyelids. While red eyes normally get better on their own, that’s not always the case.

In the event your
red eyes don’t improve on their own or you’re worried they might be a sign of something serious, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kenneth Weinlander at Milwaukee Eye Surgeons. A comprehensive eye exam can help ensure your eyes are healthy in the short- and long-term.

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