Basic Editing

Red-eye removal

Written by Gail Bjork

Here’s how to manually remove red-eye quickly with photo editing software

redeye removalIt’s not always possible to prevent unsightly red-eye when taking photos of people. The good news is that it can be removed with image editing software. Programs have a special tool to remove the red color simply by clicking a few buttons. Some programs, and even some digital cameras, remove red-eye automatically.

Manually removing red-eye from a photo

You can eliminate red-eye if your photo editing program has a tool to desatuarte color. When desaturated, colors are converted to varying tones of black and white known as grayscale. The red color changes to grayscale without changing the actual lightness of each pixel. This method gives the photographer more control over removing red-eye.

redeye removalThe red-eye in this color corrected photo was removed using the sponge tool in Photoshop.*

  • Select the sponge tool.
  • Choose a brush size large enough to cover a single eye.
  • Select the Desaturate mode. from the Mode drop down window. Adjust the Brush size and softness and Flow as needed.
  • Place the brush on each eye and click the mouse until the red color is gone.

The image was also edited to remove the color cast.

Some newer digital cameras have built-in red-eye removal, though it is not always 100% effective.

* Newer versions of Photoshop have a Red-Eye removal tool that lets you adjust for pupil size and the amount of darkening.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.


  • Snova, Picasa has a very effective red-eye correction tool. If you use Picasa Web Albums, you can correct red-eye in photos directly in your online albums with Picnik, the popular online editor. It also has a “furball” tool to fix white-eyes in pets. 🙂

  • Thanks for this – very informative.
    One question: What free photo editing program or tool(s) would you say is the best for red-eye correction/removal?
    Thank you!