What is the Eye infections?
Eye infections occur when harmful microorganisms – bacteria, fungi and viruses – invade any part of the eyeball or surrounding area. This includes the clear front surface of the eye (cornea) and the thin, moist membrane lining the outer eye and inner eyelids (conjunctiva). Eye infections sign are:
- Red eyes
- Eye discharge
- Watery eyes
- Dry eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Swollen eyes and Swelling around the eyes
- Blurry vision
Anytime you suspect an eye infection, you should always visit your eye doctor for an eye exam. Trying to self-diagnose your condition can delay effective treatment and potentially harm your sight.
Causes and Types of Eye Infections
- Pink eye, or conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis, also called “pink eye,” is a common, highly contagious eye infection that often is spread among children in day care centers, classrooms and similar environments. Common infectious conjunctivitis types often have viral or bacterial origins. Infants also can acquire conjunctival eye infections (gonococcal and chlamydial conjunctivitis) during birth when a mother has a sexually transmitted disease.
- Other viral eye infections (viral keratitis). Besides common pink eye, other viral eye infections include ocular herpes, which occurs with exposure to the Herpes simplex virus.
- Acanthamoeba keratitis. Contact lens wearers are at increased risk of encountering parasites that can invade the eye and cause a serious sight-threatening infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis. This is why contact lens wearers should observe certain safety tips, such as avoiding swimming while wearing contacts.
- Trachoma. While uncommon in the United States, an eye infection known as trachoma, related to Chlamydia trachomatis, is so widespread in certain under-developed regions that it is a leading cause of blindness. Flies can spread the infection in unsanitary environments, and reinfection is a common problem. Trachoma typically infects the inner eyelid, which begins to scar. Scarring then causes an “in-turning” of the eyelid, and eyelashes begin to brush against and destroy tissue on the cornea, with resulting permanent blindness. Good hygiene and availability of treatments such as oral antibiotics are essential to controlling trachoma.
- Endophthalmitis. When an eye infection penetrates the eye’s interior, as with bacterial endophthalmitis, blindness could result without immediate treatment, often with potent antibiotics. This type of infection can occur with a penetrating eye injury or as a rare complication of eye surgery such as cataract surgery.
Eye Infection Treatments
Fortunately, most common bacterial eye infections clear up, particularly with prompt treatment such as prescription antibiotic eye drops or ointments and compresses. Many common viral eye infections resolve on their own. In cases of severe viral eye infections, an antiviral eye drop may be prescribed. Some viral eye infections require careful administration of steroid eye drops to reduce related inflammation.
Depending on the underlying cause of your eye infection, your doctor also may prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medications that are taken orally. If your symptoms worsen or change, contact your eye doctor immediately.
Eye Infections: What You Need To Know