Eye infections are common, resulting in about 1 million doctor or hospital visits a year. Three types of invaders are responsible for most eye infections:
Treatment recommendations depend on the specific type of infection.
Eye infections can occur in one or both eyes and affect multiple parts of your eye. Common symptoms of eye infections include redness, itchiness, crusting, swelling, discharge, and pain. In some cases, these symptoms subside on their own.
But if symptoms don't go away or if they worsen, you should seek treatment from an eye care professional like Dr. Sophia Barnes and her expert eye care team at Vision Corner in Houston, Texas. If left untreated, eye infections could worsen and affect your vision and overall eye health.
In some cases, they are also contagious, so you want to treat them and not spread them. It's also important to seek treatment because an eye infection can be the result of an underlying health issue such as a corneal ulcer.
One of the most common eye infections, especially among children, is conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. Pink eye happens when your conjunctiva, the thin membranes surrounding your eyeball, get infected by bacteria or a virus.
Bacterial pink eye is highly contagious. So if you notice your eyes are pink and inflamed, seek treatment immediately.
Antibiotic drops, ointments, or oral medication usually do the trick to kill the bacteria and bring you relief within a couple of days. Other common types of eye infections include:
This common eye condition occurs when your cornea is inflamed. Keratitis can be caused by bacteria, injury to the eye, parasites, or dry eye. Often it's contracted through bacteria or parasites in water. If you wear contact lenses or have thyroid disease, you may be at risk for contracting keratitis.
Treatment: Antibacterial or antifungal eye drops, or oral medication for severe cases.
This common eye condition is usually the result of clogged oil glands inside the eyelid, causing inflamed eyelash follicles and eyelash crust.
Treatment: Warm eye compresses, corticosteroid eye drops or ointment, lubricating eye drops, and oral antibiotics.
Most of us have had a sty in our eyes at some point in our lives. Stys are the result of a bacterial infection and cause small bumps on the upper or lower eyelids
Treatment: Warm eye compresses, over-the-counter pain relievers, and antibiotic ointments.
Meibomian gland dysfunction
We have between 25 to 30 meibomian glands that normally slowly release oil into the tear film. These glands can become blocked due to a hardening of the oil inside the glands. Severe blockage can lead to enlarged glands or even infection.
Treatment: Mild cases can be treated by using a warm, wet washcloth or heat pack over the eyelids for 5 minutes, twice a day, to help loosen the oil. Follow this with a light fingertip massage. More severe cases require professional treatment, which may entail one or more of the following: eye drops, creams, or pills. Your doctor may also use devices that emit heat or pulsed light to open blocked meibomian glands.
Demodex (a.k.a eyelash mites)
Everyone has small amounts of these mites, but they still may be spread between people and animals through close contact. In large quantities, these mites can cause issues of itchiness around the eyelashes, scaly, rough patches of skin, redness, and burning around the eyes. They can also exacerbate skin flare-ups of rosacea and eczema.
Treatment: Once a professional diagnosis is made, a medicated ointment is prescribed.