Eye infections occur for different reasons, but for the most part, they are caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi that invade the eyeball or its surrounding area. The common points of infection include the cornea (the transparent front surface of the eye) and the conjunctiva (the moist membrane that lines the outer eye and inner eyelids).
Depending on the cause, eye infections can range from relatively harmless to severe, with some carrying the potential to cause permanent damage if left untreated.
Although there are a wide variety of eye infections, the major ones include:
• Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye): inflammation of the conjunctiva, a membrane that covers the white part of the eyeball.
• Viral Keratitis: a common corneal infection which occurs from exposure to Herpes simplex, Varicella zoster and Adenovirus.
• Fungal Keratitis: a corneal infection caused by exposure to a fungus. Fungi that are known to cause fungal keratitis include the Fusarium, Aspergillus and Candida species.
• Acanthamoeba Keratitis: a rare but vision-threatening parasitic infestation often seen in people who wear contact lenses.
• Endophthalmitis: inflammation of the fluids in your eye.
The symptoms of eye infection include:
• Sensitivity to light
• Swelling in or around the eyes
• Blurry vision
Fortunately, most eye infection symptoms resolve on their own in a matter of days. You can even speed up your recovery in certain cases. For instance, if you wear contact lenses, you can stop wearing them until all your symptoms have resolved. If you have a history of allergic conjunctivitis, you can avoid contact with the allergen and take antihistamines until you’re better.
However, if your symptoms include eye pain, sensitivity to light, severe redness or a change in vision, there is a possibility that you could be dealing with a serious eye infection which may be sight threatening . If you experience the aforementioned symptoms, you should book an appointment with an eye specialist as soon as possible. The specialist will conduct a series of eye tests to provide a reliable diagnosis. Once the cause of the symptoms has been identified, an effective treatment plan can be created.
While a number of eye infections are benign, some are a serious threat to your vision. This is why it’s better to see an eye specialist as soon as you start exhibiting serious symptoms. The sooner an infection is treated, the less likely you are to develop complications. As with other matters related to your vision, one ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
About Dr. Sachin Bawa
Sachin Bawa is a founder of Dr. Sachin Bawa Cataract and Vision Clinic. He is a qualified ophthalmic surgeon for more than 9 years. He holds a medical degree from the University of Witswatersrand which he completed in 2004.