The chances are high that at some point in your life you've experienced an issue with your eyes or even an eye infection. Eye infections can be a scary experience for many people. For some, panic sets in as the discomfort or pain overwhelms and leaves you feeling anxious. Is it serious? When should you go to the doctor? It's very important for your eye health to be aware of common infections your eyes are at risk for, and steps you need to take to prevent, and treat more common eye infections.
Eye Infection Symptoms
Staying vigilant and proactive with your eye health can be easy. Keep on the lookout for the following symptoms of eye infections:
- Red eyes
- Eye discharge
- Watery eyes
- Dry eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Swollen eyes
- Swelling around the eyes
- Blurry vision
An infection in the eye develops from any type of eye irritation, such as getting a small amount of chemical or dust in the eye. Minor eye injuries, such as a small scratch on the cornea, can also trigger an infection. Bacteria, fungi, or viruses, can also cause eye infections and these can occur in one or both eyes. Contact wearers are at a higher risk of eye infections and should be more diligent about preventing eye infections by maintaining proper contact hygiene.
Let's take a look at the most common eye infections and what you need to do to maintain your eye health.
Eye Infections and Issues
Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye): This common infection typically occurs in children and is highly contagious. There are several causes of pinkeye that include allergies, dry eyes, chemicals, or bacterial or viral infections. If you develop blurred vision see your eye doctor immediately. Depending on the cause, antibiotics are often needed to treat conjunctivitis. Pinkeye generally clears up within 7-10 days. Since this infection spreads so easily, it's best to visit a doctor and err on the side of caution.
Corneal Infections (Keratitis): This infection enters your eye through the cornea and is caused by staphylococcus, or staph, which is found in normal bacteria in our eyelids, skin, mouth, and nose. It's also caused by the same bacteria that causes strep throat. Corneal infections can be very painful, your eyes will be red, and you will have blurry vision. If left untreated it can lead to permanent vision loss. See your doctor right away to get the proper treatment.
Stye (Blepharitis): This infection causes swelling and tenderness near the edge of your eyelid. Often times, a doctor is not needed. Successful home treatment includes applying a warm compress to the affected eye several times per day. However if the stye doesn't go away within a few days, see your eye doctor and they will prescribe an antibiotic.
For optimal eye health, follow these eye infection prevention tips and review when you should see your eye doctor:
Eye Infection Prevention:
- Keep your hands clean
- Don't rub or touch your eyes
- Avoid sharing towels with other people
- Wear safety goggles or glasses when drilling or doing outdoor work
When to See a Doctor:
- If you suspect your eye injury is severe go to the ER or eye doctor immediately
- Severe eye pain and blurred vision require immediate medical attention
Knowing the symptoms early may save your vision one day. Always be proactive, maintain your eye health, and treat your eye infections before they become a major problem. Healthy eyes are crucial, yet over 30% of Americans claimed to have never had their eyes checked. Remember, healthy eyes are happy eyes! Contact us today to ask about our exams or to schedule an appointment.