Do You Have an Eye Infection?
Eye infections occur when bacteria, viruses, or fungi invade any part of your eye or surrounding area. They can affect the cornea—the clear front surface—as well as the moist conjunctiva, the membrane lining the outer eye and inner part of your eyelids.
What are the eye symptoms of an eye infection?
The following are the most common eye symptoms of an infection:
- redness and inflammation in the eyes or watery eyes
- swelling near the eyes
- itching and pain
- dry or swollen eyes
- eye discharge
- blurry vision
If you suspect you have an eye infection, you need to visit your eye doctor. Trying to self-diagnose your eye problems will delay the eye care and treatment you need and prevent harm to your sight.
What are the types of eye infections?
The following are common types of eye infections your eye doctor can treat:
Commonly known as pinkeye, this is an infection that gives your eyes the telltale pink tint. Pinkeye can be caused by a bacteria or virus, or it could be an allergic reaction.
This is an inflammation of your eyelids. It is usually caused by a clogging of the glands inside the eyelid skin at the base of the eyelashes. It is usually caused by bacteria.
An inflammation of the cornea, which is caused by bacteria, viruses, or waterborne parasites. Contact lens wearers frequently suffer from this infection.
A “stye” is the common term for a painful red bump under the eyelid or at the base of your eyelashes. The technical term is chalazion, and it occurs when the oil glands in your eyelashes or eyelid are infected with bacteria. It is similar to a pimple, and is not contagious.
An inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of your eye. This is often a viral infection and linked to autoimmune disorders like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Other eye inflammations include endophthalmitis, ocular herpes, and cellulitis.
Preventing Eye Infections
You can avoid bacterial or viral eye infections by:
- washing your hands after being around someone with a red eye
- using anti-infective cleansers and sprays available in public areas like classrooms and day care centers
- teaching children to wash their hands and avoid touching their eyes
- practicing good contact lens hygiene and never sleeping while wearing contact lenses
Treating Eye Infections
Most common eye infections with prompt treatment clear up quickly. Your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops, compresses, or ointments. Many infections resolve satisfactorily on their own, but severe virus-caused eye infections may require an antiviral eye drop or steroid eye drops to reduce any related infections.