Eye Infection

Overview

Eye infections are common ailments. These infections can affect one or both eyes and can have a number of sources including bacteria, viruses or fungi. Redness, itching and swelling of the eye or surrounding tissues can indicate infection. Some eye infections – like conjunctivitis – are mild annoyances and can be easily treated. Others – like trachoma – are serious and can lead to blindness. Treatment for eye infections will vary based on the underlying cause. The two most common eye infections are conjunctivitis and stye.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Conjunctivitis – commonly called pinkeye – is a very contagious and very common eye infection. Symptoms include redness, itching, discharge, crusty buildup after sleep, swelling, stinging or pain. A stye is also very common and occurs when bacteria blocks the hair follicle of an eyelash. This results in a tender bump on the eyelid. The eyelid will appear swollen and patients may have an itching sensation in the eye. Other eye infections may have additional symptoms. Changes in vision, tenderness, light sensitivity, itching, swelling or redness of the eyes should be checked by a physician for diagnosis.

To determine whether an eye infection is present – and what type of infection it may be – the doctor will examine both eyes for physical symptoms. During the eye exam, the doctor may use a bright light to inspect the lens, cornea and inside of the eye. In addition, samples of discharge may be taken for laboratory testing.

Causes

Eye infections can have a number of causes. For instance, a stye is caused by bacteria in the hair follicle of an eyelash, while pinkeye can be caused by either bacteria or virus. Some of the viruses that cause pinkeye are similar to the common cold. Some eye infections – such as Keratitis – can be caused by injury and infection by fungi or parasites. Treatment will vary depending on the cause. Continue reading for Prevention and Treatment information . . .

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