You’ve probably heard the theories: demonic possession, secret laser-shooting abilities, etc. While we can’t dismiss those theories with total certainty, the most likely cause of red eyes in pictures is relatively harmless. Let’s talk about (1) what causes red eyes in pictures, (2) how to avoid red eyes in pictures, and (3) how to get rid of red eyes in pictures. 

What causes red eyes in pictures 

According to the smarty-pantses at Yale Scientific, the dreaded red-eye effect usually happens when a camera flash is used at night or in a dark room. In these dark settings, your unsuspecting pupils dilate (grow bigger) to let in more light. Dilated pupils enable the abrupt light from a camera flash to reflect off the blood-rich connective tissue at the back of your eyes. Cameras capture that reflection, resulting in the red-eye effect. 

Creepy, right? The good news is that red eyes in pictures often signal that your retinas are unobstructed and healthy

How to avoid red eyes in pictures 

What if you’re more interested in a good picture than in assessing your retina health? Here are three easy tricks to avoid red eyes in your pictures: 

  1. Turn on some lights (so long as it doesn’t kill the mood). If you can’t ditch the camera flash entirely, a brighter environment will at least help ready your pupils for the flash. 
  2. Refrain from staring directly at the camera. Averting your eyes will help reduce reflecting light. And let’s be honest: it looks cooler anyway. 
  3. Use your camera’s red-eye reduction mode. Most of today’s cameras can reduce the red-eye effect by using preparatory flashes to shrink your pupils for pictures. 

How to get rid of red eyes in pictures 

Red eyes in pictures are sometimes unavoidable. Luckily, they can be fixed with photo-editing software like Adobe Photoshop–including Adobe’s free Photoshop Express mobile app. Modern smartphones rarely cause the red-eye effect, but several other free or inexpensive photo-editing mobile apps are available if you do manage to take a red-eyed picture with your phone. In fact, many smartphones have built-in red-eye correction tools in their preinstalled photo apps. 

Still haven’t upgraded to a camera phone? We haven’t forgotten about you, old schoolers. Get yourself a red-eye removal pen to correct red eyes in your printed pictures. 

Well, there you have it. At the very least, you can now wow your friends with your extensive knowledge of the red-eye effect. You’re welcome. 

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