How To Manually Remove Red Eye in Photoshop CC 2017

The Tree Frog image on the left shows the Red Eye Tool and the Tool Options. The image on the right shows the use of layers.
Red Eye removal in Photoshop can be reduced to a single click or fixed using filters and blend modes.

It has happened to all of us. We have shot a great photo of Aunt Millie at the family gathering. Then, when we look at the result, Aunt Millie suddenly looks demonic with glowing red eyes. Another situation involves your pets. You take this amazing photo of your pet dog or cat and, once again the animal transforms to "Devil Dog" or "Devil Cat". The question, therefore, is: "What happened to cause this nasty effect and how do I fix it?"

Red eye happens when you take a photo in low light using a flash that’s very close to the camera lens. (This is especially common on smartphone cameras where the flash is turned on, and some point-and-shoot cameras.) When the light from the flash hits the subject’s eyes, it enters through the pupil and is reflected by the blood vessels at the back of the retina. This is what makes your subject's pupils appear to glow red. Thankfully, there is a fix and it is dead simple to accomplish in Photoshop.

Red Eye Replacement Techniques 

Difficulty: Dead Simple

Time Required: 5 minutes

There are a couple of ways of fixing this. The first is to use the Red Eye Tool found at the bottom of the Healing Brushes. The second is a Do-It-Yourself approach which gives you a tremendous amount of control over the process. Let's start with the Red Eye Removal tool:

  1. Open the image and duplicate the Layer. This is a common Best Practice that preserves the original image by working with a copy of the image. The Keyboard Command for this is Command/Ctrl-J.

  2. Select the Zoom Tool or press the Z key. Zoom in on the Red Eye area.

  3. Click and hold the Healing Brush Tool. The Red Eye Tool is at the bottom of the list.

  4. When you release the mouse, two options - Pupil Size and Darken Amount- will appear on the Tool Options bar. What do they do? The Pupil Size slider simply increases the area the tool will be applied to and the Darken Amount slider lets you lighten or darken the result. To be honest, you will rarely need to use these controls because the tool does a tremendous job.

To remove the Red Eye do one of two things: Click once in the Red area or click and drag to tell Photoshop the Red Eye is in that area.

This next technique is to be used in situations where you want to totally control the process rather than relying on a tool's default value. It isn't as complicated as it first appears. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the image.

  2. Duplicate the Background layer.

  3. Zoom in on the Red Eye to be fixed.

  4. Create a new layer.

  5. Use the eyedropper to pick up a color from the iris of the eye. It should be a fairly grey tint with a hint of the eye's true color.

  6. Select the Brush Tool and resize the brush to fit the area. Paint over the red part of the eye on the new layer. Be careful not to paint over the eyelids.

  7. Go to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and give the image about a 1-pixel blur to soften the edges of the painted area on the layer.

  8. Set the layer blend mode to Saturation. This will take the red out without removing the highlights, but in many cases, it leaves the eyes too grey and hollow-looking. If that's the case, duplicate the saturation layer and change the blend mode to Hue. That should put some color back in while still preserving the highlights.

  9. If the color is too strong after adding a Hue layer, lower the opacity of the Hue layer.

  10. You can merge the extra layers down when you're happy with the results.


  • Use the burn tool if you want to darken the pupil area. It should only take a couple of taps to darken the pupils.
  • Use the eraser tool to clean up any overspray from painting outside the iris before merging your layers.