Eye infection takes place when harmful microorganisms such as fungi, bacteria and viruses invade any part of eye ball or surrounding area such as the clear front surface of the eye i.e. the cornea or the thin moist membrane lining the inner eyelids and outer eye.
People wearing contact lenses are prone to eye infections due to decrease in oxygen reaching their cornea because of which fungal or bacterial build-up takes place.
Causes of eye infection
Eye infection can take place because of several reasons such as:
- Pink Eye (conjunctivitis) - It is a very common eye disease that happens to people of all age group due to bacterial or viral origins.
- Viral keratitis: This eye infection takes place with exposure to the Herpes simplex virus.
- Acanthamoeba keratitis: This type of infection is familiar with contact lenses wearers who are at risk of encountering parasites which can invade the eye and thereby cause serious eye infection. Hence lot of safety measure needs to be adhered to while wearing contact lenses.
- Trachoma: This is an infection that is spread by flies in unsanitary environments. The inner eyelid gets infected which begins to scar. This infection can result in permanent blindness.
- Endophthalmitis: This type of infection occurs with penetrating eye injury or complication arising out of cataract surgery and may also cause blindness if not treated immediately.
- Some of the other causes of eye infection are Eye Stye, Blepharitis, Cellulitis, Corneal Ulcer, Herpes Simplex Virus, Herpes Zoster (shingles)
There may be several other reasons for eye infections apart from the ones that are mentioned above.
Signs and Symptoms
Some of the sign and symptoms of eye infection are:
- Red eyes
- Watery eyes
- Eye discharge
- Swollen eyes
- Dry eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Blurry vision
- Swelling around the eyes
- Flaking of the eye
If the above signs and symptoms persist for long than one must visit doctor at the earliest so that diagnosis can be done and the eye infection can be treated.
Eye infection can spread easily from one person to another. In order to avoid spreading of eye infection and also to prevent eye infection from worsening certain important steps should be followed:
- Wash hands often and thoroughly. This is important so as to prevent the spread of pink eye.
- Avoid touching your eyes and face. In case you need to apply makeup or medicine around the eye then you must wash your hands before and after application
- Avoid eye makeup and also avoid sharing eye make up with anyone or use others make up
- Do not share wash clothes, pillows, towels or other linens.
- Do not wear contact lenses when suffering from eye infection. Disinfect lenses and also the storage case thoroughly before using again.
- Never wear contact lenses when sleeping
- Do not share eye care drugs.
- Always protect your eye in hot, windy, dusty or otherwise harsh environment
- Wear goggles or safety glasses when around chemicals
- Report any negative changes or any new symptoms to your eye doctor immediately.
- Avoid too much exposure to television, computers or mobile phones.
Myths and facts:
Myths: No eye examination is required if vision is clear
Fact: An annual examination of eye is absolutely necessary as it helps in detecting any early symptoms of serious health conditions such as diabetes, tumours, hypertension, increased cholesterol etc.
Myth: Darker sunglasses are better for eye protection against the Sun
Fact: Only sunglasses that offer 99-100% UVB and UVA filtration can protect eyes from sun’s harmful rays. Dark colour or light coloured lenses does not matter. The only advantage that dark glasses provide is it reduces discomfort for people who are sensitive to light.
Myth: Opening eyes in swimming pool does not harm eyes
Fact: Swimming pool water contains contaminants and without protective goggles underwater your eyes will be exposed to these contaminants and increase the risk of infection.
Diagnosis of eye disease
Optometrists or Ophthalmologists are trained to recognize various eye infections by the appearance of the retina and also the surface of the eye, your medical history and several other factors. If there is discharge or pus formation, it can be cultured to find out the organism. It is possible that you may be tested for common diseases such as gonorrhoea, Chlamydia and herpes simplex. The medical professionals will perform examination of your eye in detail before coming to any conclusion. You should see your eye care professional if you have:
- Recurring eye problems
- Altered vision, eye pain, continuous discharge from the eye or severe redness of the eye
- Changes in pupil size
- Eye problems along with a condition such as diabetes
- Recent injury to the eye
Treatment for eye infection
Eye treatment varies according to the type of infection that has taken place. Most bacterial eye infection clear up with prompt treatment such as prescribed antibiotic ointments or eye drops and compresses.
If there is a viral eye infection, many infection resolve on their own. However, some time antiviral eye drop may also be prescribed. In case of some viral eye infection steroid eye drops may also be prescribed so as to reduce inflammation. This may require careful administration.
Depending on the cause of your eye infection, doctor may prescribe antiviral or antibiotics eye care medications that need to be taken orally. Even after that if the situation worsens you must contact your doctor immediately.
Sometimes the patient may also suffer from Glaucoma, a condition that causes damage to eye's optic nerve and builds pressure inside the eye. Depending upon the condition, Glaucoma treatment may vary. It may be treated using eye drop or t may be treated by performing a micro or laser surgery.
Steps to improve the health
It is essential to take good care of your eyes and some of the steps to take good care and improve its health are:
- Take the medicines at proper times as instructed by your doctor
- Completing the dose is essential otherwise it may result in the infection coming back again
- Wash your eyes at regular intervals.
- Get enough sleep
- Do not over strain your eyes by watching lot of TV or working for hours on computers. Taking breaks in between is essential to maintain good eye health
- Us of goggles and eye gear is essential to protect eye from dust, sun, or foreign particles
- Wear contact lenses after following all the guidelines properly and do not use contact lenses after it has reached its expiry date.
- Eat healthy diet
- Get your eyes checked up regularly