Signs of an Eye Infection
If you are feeling pain, swelling, itching, or redness in your eye, most likely you have an eye infection. You may feel itchy in or around the eyes. Or maybe they’re turning red. An infection in your eye can turn up in many different ways. It depends on which part of your eye is affected. There are some signs which can give you clues. Of course, your eye doctor will be able to make the final call.
Eye infections occur when harmful microorganisms, it may be bacteria, fungi, or viruses invades any part of the eyeball or surrounding tissues. Infection may occur in the clear front surface of the eye (cornea), and the thin membrane lining the outer eye, in the inner eyelids (conjunctiva) as well. Eye Infection in each part of the eyes has a different treatment.
Symptoms of an Eye Infection
You may have symptoms in any one or both eyes when you have an infection. The symptoms will look like this-
- Pain or discomfort in the eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Red Eyes
- Dry Eyes
- Discharge from the eyes
- Watery Eyes
- Feeling that some particle is on or in your eye
- Sensitivity to Light – Eye hurts when it’s bright
- Burning sensation in your eyes
- Blurred Vision
- Small, painful lump under your eyelid or at the base of your eyelashes
- Eyelid is tender when you touch it
- Eyes won’t stop tearing up
- Irritation in your eye
Make sure to remove your contact lenses, if you wear them. You should wear only eyeglasses when you feel such symptoms.
Whenever you suspect you have an eye infection, you must visit your eye doctor for an eye test. Trying to self-diagnose or self-medicate your condition can delay effective treatment. Quick action would reduce the chance of a potential permanent vision loss.
There are many different types of eye infections, and your eye doctor needs to examine your eyes to determine what particular type of eye infection you have. Only then would she be able to prescribe the proper treatment.
Your doctor may take a sample from the affected area of your eye for a culture test to evaluate the exact type of eye infection you have. And whether you do have one. This will help determine the most effective course of treatment.
Types and Causes of Eye Infection
Examples of viral, fungal, and bacterial eye infections include:
Conjunctivitis Eye Infection
Conjunctivitis is also known as “Pink Eyes”. It is quite common, and a highly contagious eye infection. Mostly, it is spread among children in daycare centers, classrooms, and similar environments.
That is how the teachers and daycare workers are at increased risk of conjunctivitis because they work in close quarters with young children.
Common infectious conjunctivitis types often originate from viral or bacterial infections. Infants can also acquire conjunctival eye infections (gonococcal and chlamydial conjunctivitis) during birth if the mother has a sexually transmitted disease.
It is an inflammation of the eyelids caused by clogging of the oil glands inside the eyelid at the base of the eyelashes. The major reason behind it is bacteria. The following are some symptoms of Blepharitis:
- Redness, itching, or swelling in the eyes
- Inflammation in the eyes
- Feeling like something is there in the eyes
- Excess water production in the eyes
- Sensitivity to light
Other reasons leading to Blepharitis are:
- Dandruff is the scalp or the eyebrows
- Eye allergies or makeup
- Improper functioning of the oil glands
- Medications affecting the immune system
- Using a clean warm water compress over the eyes to prevent swelling
- Corticosteroids eye drops or ointments to prevent inflammation
- Using lubricant eye drops to moisten the eyes and prevent dryness in the eyes
A bump that develops because of the oil glands on the outer edges of the eyelids is known as a stye. These bumps allow the bacteria to overgrow in your gland. The symptoms for stye include:
- Pain, itchiness, and swelling in the eyes
- More water production in the eyes
- Crustiness around the eyelids
- Irritation in the eyes
Some treatments to cure the stye are:
- Applying warm water compress over your eyes for 20 minutes at a time. You should do it 3-4 times a day to avoid swelling and itchiness in the eyes
- Using baby soap or shampoo to clean the eyelids
- Do not use your contact lenses or apply any makeup for some time. Start using them only when your doctor allows you to do so.
- Using antibiotics ointments helps in killing the bacteria.
Normally, a sty disappears in 7-10 days if it does not then show your doctor and also about the possible treatments for the same.
It occurs when eye tissues get infected. Mainly, it happens when you get a scratch on the eye tissue due to some eye injury, bacterial infections, or sinus infections.
Younger children are more prone to cellulitis as they are at higher risks of infections causing such disease. The symptom for such disease includes:
The treatment for the same includes:
Applying a warm water compress over your eyes for 20 minutes helps to get relief from the inflammation. Taking oral antibiotics to fight off bacteria and infections. If the condition is severe you might also need to go through some eye surgery.
Other Viral Eye Infections (Viral Keratitis)
Besides common conjunctivitis, other viral eye infections include Ocular Herpes, which occurs due to exposure to the Herpes simplex virus.
This eye infection made worldwide breaking news in 2006. A contact lens solution was linked to an outbreak among contact lens wearers. That contact lens solution was immediately withdrawn from the market. Fungal Keratitis is connected with Fusarium fungi, usually found in organic matter. This and other fungi can invade the eye in one or other ways, such as through an eye injury caused by anything.
Contact lens wearers are at increased risk of encountering microorganisms that can invade the eye, and cause a serious sight-threatening infection called Acanthamoeba Keratitis. Therefore the contact lens wearers are advised to be precautions and take certain safety measures. Such as preserving the lenses properly, changing them as per prescriptions, not wearing them for a longer duration, and avoiding swimming while wearing contacts. If you are habitual of swimming or relaxing in a hot tub, make sure to remove and disinfect your lenses immediately afterward. There is a much higher risk of fungal, and bacterial eye infections among contact lens wearers in general. So you must follow proper contact lens care. Most ophthalmologists recommend that manufacturers include a discard date (not just a date of expiration) on contact lens cleaning and disinfecting solutions to help minimize the risk of eye infection.
A serious eye infection known as Trachoma is a leading cause of blindness in certain parts of the world. It is associated with Chlamydia trachomatis. The infection is spread by the house flies in unsanitary surroundings. There are higher chances of getting reinfected. Trachoma typically infects the inner eyelid, which begins to scar. Scarring causes an “in-turning” of the eyelid, and eyelashes begin to brush against the cornea. This damages the tissues. And may result in permanent blindness. Good hygiene is essential to controlling Trachoma. Taking the prescribed oral antibiotics will treat this.
Certain type of bacteria usually causes Endophthalmitis. The infection occurs in the interior part of the eye. The most common cause of endophthalmitis is an injury that penetrated the eye. It may sometimes occur as a rare complication of eye surgery such as Cataract Surgery, or Lasik Surgery. Getting immediate medical treatment with potent antibiotics is necessary to prevent serious vision loss or even blindness from Endophthalmitis.
Severe Eye Infections
An infection can affect interior parts of the upper, and lower eyelids to form a Stye or Chalazion. Rubbing or “popping” an Eye Stye should be avoided. Because this can cause a far more serious, and deeper infection called Orbital Cellulitis. Orbital Cellulitis is an infection of the tissues surrounding the eyeball.
It is a medical emergency because, if not treated promptly, it can cause blindness, meningitis, or even death. This infection also can lead to inflammation, and blockage of the tear drainage system, and cause Dacryocystitis.
An underlying cause for orbital cellulitis infection could be a Corneal Ulcer, which resembles an abscess on the eye. If left untreated, the Corneal Ulcer can lead to severe or permanent vision loss.
Treatment of Eye Infection
Fortunately, most common bacterial eye infections can be treated effectively with prescribed antibiotics Eye Drops, eye ointments, and compresses.
While the viral eye infections, mostly, resolve on their own. If you have a severe viral eye infection, your eye doctor may prescribe an antiviral eye drop. Some viral eye infections require careful administration of Steroid eye drops to reduce the inflammation caused.
Depending on the underlying nature and cause of your eye infection, your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics or antiviral medications to be taken orally. If the symptoms worsen or change, contact your eye doctor immediately.
Prevention From Eye Infections
Eye infection is contagious. If you are near a person with an eye infection, do not touch your own eyes before washing your hands thoroughly first. By washing your hands frequently throughout the day and by avoiding rubbing your eyes, you can also minimize the likelihood of catching common bacterial or viral eye infections. Especially before applying and removing contact lenses. Use a good anti-bacterial cleaning product for cleaning countertops and other common areas.
Do the following to prevent eye infections or keep viral infections from recurring:
- Don’t touch your eyes or face with unwashed hands.
- Bathe regularly and wash your hands often.
- Follow an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Use clean towels and tissues around your eyes.
- Don’t share eye make-up, and face makeup with anyone else.
- Wash the bed sheets and pillowcases at least once a week.
- Wear contact lenses well-fitted to your eye. And get them checked by an eye doctor regularly.
- Use a good contact solution to disinfect lenses every day.
- Avoid touching anyone with an eye infection.
- Replace or avoid any object that’s been in contact with an infected eye.
- Keep your surroundings clean and maintain hygiene.
Most eye infection symptoms often go away on their own within a few days. But seek emergency medical attention if you observe any severe symptoms. In case of pain or loss of vision, you must visit your doctor. The earlier an infection is treated, the less likely the possibility of the development of any complications.
If you are facing any of the symptoms stated above, please visit an eye specialist promptly. So that she can understand the difficulties you are facing. The doctor will be able to judge better the suitability or risks of a procedure for you.
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