Eye infections

An eye infection of some kind will affect almost everyone at some point in their lives. Ranging from short-term conditions, such as conjunctivitis, to long-term (or chronic) conditions like blepharitis.

Causes of Eye Infections

Infections occur when harmful organisms such as bacteria and viruses get into a part of the eye. They can infect one or both eyes, and can affect people of all ages.

Eye Infection Symptoms

Although the causes of infection are different, eye infection symptoms are often similar. Depending on the actual problem, you’ll probably start to notice one or more of the following symptoms when an infection presents itself:

  • The whites of your eye become inflamed or pink
  • Pain or soreness
  • Eye itchiness
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Watery eyes or a watery/sticky discharge coming from the eye
  • Blurred or disturbed vision

If you observe any of these symptoms, consult with your optometrist, pharmacist or GP. They will be able to determine the cause of the infection and decide on a suitable treatment.

Types of Eye Infections

There are many different types of eye infections, each with different causes and requiring different treatments. Bacterial, viral and fungal infections are the most common, occurring in people of all ages. They can invade any part of the eye, including the cornea – the clear front surface, and the conjunctiva – the thin, moist membrane that lines the white of the eye and inner eyelid.

Eye Infection Treatment Options

If you suspect you have an eye infection, consult with an eye care professional as soon as you can. Luckily most eye infection treatments are relatively simple, however different eye infections require different treatments, so getting an accurate diagnosis from a qualified eye care practitioner, pharmacist or doctor is important. Some common infections often won’t require treatments such as antibiotics, however eye drops and ointments can help to speed up the healing process and calm eye irritation. Severe eye infections such as those caused by bacteria and viruses will usually require a strong antibiotic or antiviral eye drops to help ease inflammation and pain.

Can eye infections be prevented?

The risk of developing an eye infection can be reduced by observing good hygiene, and if you are a contact lens wearer, by taking care to follow the advice your eye care practitioner has given you. There are also steps you can take to help stop eye infections from spreading. Washing your hands if you’re suffering from an eye infection is the easiest way to prevent the germs from spreading. You should also avoid sharing pillows, cloths and towels until the infection has cleared up.

If you are unsure or have concerns about your eyes, always seek advice from your regular optometrist.