Most people are no stranger to infections. Infections occur when another organism enters the body and causes disease. The eyes may not seem like an obvious entry point, but the soft pink lining, called the conjunctiva, is an important access location for viruses, bacteria, and other harmful germs that could affect our health and wellbeing, as well as the function of our eyes.
There are lots of different types of eye infections, and these are usually divided into different categories, based on their cause. These categories are viral eye infections, bacterial eye infections, and fungal eye infections. Contrary to what many people believe, they don’t only affect the eyes themselves – they can also affect the conjunctiva, which is the moist tissue that covers the inside of the eyelids and outer white part of your eye, and your eyelids themselves.
Eye infections can affect one or both eyes and can cause a range of different symptoms. These include, but aren’t limited to:
A sensation like there is a foreign body in or on the eye
A burning sensation
Pain or discomfort
Sensitivity to light
The eyelid is tender to the touch
Redness or inflammation
The skin of the eyelids feels hot to the touch
The white part of your eye looks pink or red
You are experiencing discharge from one or both eyes
Your eyelids and eyelashes are crusty, especially in the morning
It may be difficult for you to wear contact lenses
Your vision may be blurred
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important that you schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to obtain a diagnosis and find out what treatment is available to help.
Fortunately, most eye infections can be treated fairly easily. Exactly what treatment you’ll be recommended will depend on the cause of your eye infection. Here are some of the most common types of eye infections and how they are treated.
Conjunctivitis: also known as pink eye due to one of the main symptoms that it causes, conjunctivitis can be bacterial or viral and is highly contagious for as long as two weeks after the infection begins. There’s no treatment for viral conjunctivitis aside from cleaning your eyes regularly, but if your infection is caused by bacteria, you’ll be prescribed antibiotic eye drops or ointment which will help combat the infection. You may also be given oral antibiotics. Some people suffer from conjunctivitis caused by allergies and these patients will be prescribed antihistamines to counteract the effects of their reaction.
Keratitis: This condition is characterized by infection of the front, clear dome covering the front part of the eye, caused by the cornea. Keratitis can be caused by bacteria, a virus, a fungus, or even a parasite. Medicated eye drops are usually the first course of treatment, and these will either be antibiotic or antifungal depending on the cause of your keratitis. In severe infections, oral antibiotics may be required.
Blepharitis: an eye infection that affects the eyelids, blepharitis is normally caused by the meibomian glands, which are responsible for producing the oil element of the tear film, becoming blocked. Most blepharitis is bacterial, and treatments include regularly cleaning your eyes, using lubricating eye drops to prevent the surface of your eyes from drying out, using steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation, and taking antibiotics. These may be prescribed as eyedrops, topical solutions, or oral medication.
Uveitis: this occurs when the central layer of the eyeball, called the uvea, becomes infected and inflamed. Uveitis is normally the result of a viral infection, an autoimmune disorder, or an eye injury. It can be serious if it isn’t treated. Fortunately, there’s a range of potential solutions, including prescription eye drops, medications to suppress your immune system, and eye injections.
If you are concerned that you may have an eye infection, don’t suffer a moment longer than you have to. Contact our team today at (440) 571-7100 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.