Does trazodone make your eyes red? (3+ side effects)

This article will answer the question, “Does trazodone make your eyes red?” We will also discuss the factors contributing to red eyes while taking trazodone and some measures to manage red eyes caused by the use of trazodone. 

Does trazodone make your eyes red? 

Yes, trazodone can make your eyes red and cause irritation. However, this side effect is rare and occurs in a small population. You may experience red eyes at the beginning of the treatment when it is your first time taking trazodone, which subsides as your body gets used to the medication. 

There are other reasons which can lead to a red eye, such as eye infection (conjunctivitis), dry eyes, stress, allergies, prolonged sun exposure, etc. If you are experiencing swelling or difficulty breathing along with red eye, that indicates you are allergic to the drug. If you are allergic to the drug, seek medical help immediately. 

What does the research suggest? 

Trazodone belongs to the class of serotonin antagonists and reuptake inhibitors, which help treat symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and other sleep-related disorders. (1)

Research studies have shown that trazodone-induced red eyes were seen in 3% of the patients in controlled clinical studies, along with blurred vision in 6% of inpatients and 15% of outpatients. (2)

A 40-year-old man experienced slurred speech, neck pain, vertigo, dizziness, blurred vision and diplopia after administration of trazodone for insomnia. When trazodone was discontinued, all the symptoms subsided except dizziness, which resolved after two weeks of discontinuation. (3)

What factors can contribute to trazodone-induced red eye? 

There are several factors which contribute to trazodone-induced red eyes. 

  • Medication dose: A higher dose of trazodone can cause red eyes in some individuals.
  • Duration of use: Prolonged use of trazodone can cause irritation in the eye. 
  • Concurrent medications: Concurrent use of medication such as antihistamines, beta-blockers, etc. can exacerbate eye irritation. 
  • Conjunctivitis: Inflammation of the eye caused by infection, irritants or allergies can lead to irritation in the eye. 
  • Dry eyes: Improper tear production can lead to dry eyes, causing redness and irritation. 
  • Environmental irritants: Exposure to smoke and dust can cause red eyes.   
  • Contact lens: Improper use of contact lenses can cause redness and discomfort. 

What to do if you experience trazodone-induced red eyes? 

If you are experiencing redness of the eye or irritation in the eye while taking trazodone, you should consult your physician as soon as possible for a proper assessment and management. 

If you are experiencing red-eye because of trazodone, your physician will either reduce the dose or discontinue the medication. While discontinuing trazodone, it is important to taper the dose to avoid withdrawal symptoms, and it should be done under the guidance of a qualified physician.

Antihistamine eye drops or ocular decongestants can also help treat the symptoms of red eye. If the cause of red eye is an infection, then your physician will prescribe you some antibiotic eye drops. 

If you are experiencing side effects with the use of trazodone, which is affecting your day-to-day activities, you can choose to switch to other medications such as: 

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): citalopram, escitalopram, paroxetine, sertraline. 
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): venlafaxine, minacipran, desvenlafaxine, levomilnacipran. 
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: amitriptyline, amoxapine, nortriptyline, imipramine. 
  • Atypical antidepressant: bupropion, mirtazapine. 
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): isocarboxazid, selegiline.

To treat insomnia: 

  • Benzodiazepines: triazolam, estazolam, temazepam, quazepam. 
  • Non-benzodiazepines: zolpidem, zaleplon, eszopiclone.
  • Melatonin agonist: ramelteon
  • Tricyclic antidepressant: doxepin
  • Orexin receptors antagonist: suvorexant
  • Atypical antipsychotics: quetiapine, olanzapine, risperidone. 
  • Antihistamine: diphenhydramine, doxylamine. 

Any alteration to the treatment should be done under the guidance of a qualified physician to avoid potential harm.

How to manage trazodone-induced red eye? 

You can manage eye redness caused by trazodone by following a few steps such as: 

  • You can use OTC artificial tears, which lubricate and soothe the eye. 
  • Apply warm or cold compression to your eyes with the help of a cloth soaked in water, which helps manage dryness and redness of the eye. 
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes and touching your eyes more often, as it can cause more irritation. 
  • Stay hydrated, as dehydration can contribute to dryness and redness of the eye.
  • Cut slices of cucumber, soak them in cold water for a few minutes, and place them on closed eyes, which will help reduce inflammation and provide a soothing effect. 
  • Avoid prolonged screen timing and limit the use of contact lenses. 
  • Sometimes, red eye can be caused by dust, chemicals and irritants; you can use OTC antihistamine eye drops to help with the symptoms. 

In my opinion, as a pharmacist, trazodone can cause red eyes. However, the occurrence is rare. It is important to rule out the underlying cause before altering the treatment course. I recommend you to consult a physician if you have a red eye. 

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Shin JJ, Saadabadi A. Trazodone. [Updated 2022 Jul 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: 


Trazodone [package insert]. Locust Valley N.Y: Pragma Pharmaceuticals, LLC. 2017. Available from:  


Selvaraj V, Ramaswamy S, Bhatia SC. Transient ischemic attack associated with trazodone therapy: a case report. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders. 2011 Jul 28;13(4):26949. Available from: 

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