An eye infection is caused by an invasion of the body defences by a virus or bacteria:
Most of us take our sight for granted, but when we develop eye diseases we are reminded of just how important this organ is to us.
Eye problems are very common and even if we have never experienced this condition ourselves, we will likely know a few people who have.
There are a number of different reasons why we might develop an eye infection; it will usually be caused by a virus or bacterial.
No matter what the cause of the eye infection we should always have it treated as quickly as possible.
What is an Eye Infection?
There are many different types of eye infection, but some of these are quite rare.
The most common type of infection is called bacterial conjunctivitis; other common infections include styes and staphylococcal bacterial infections (also known as blepharitis).
We will now look a bit more closely at these usual causes for an eye infection.
1. A stye eye is a tiny bump that appears on the outside or inside of the eyelid. In a lot of cases what happens is that an eyelid gland gets clogged up and this allows bacteria to gather leading to an infection. This stye can become quite painful and lead to watery eyes and other symptoms; it could also be the case that the person with the stye will develop sensitivity to light. If the stye becomes too big then it might be difficult to see out of that eye. In some instances this tiny bump can develop into a more serious problem called a chalazion; this can lead to a permanent bump in the eye.
2. Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis is the most common of all eye infections and luckily treating it is usually fairly straightforward. With conjunctivitis there is an inflammation of the inside lining of the eye (this is why it is often referred to as pink eye) and the outermost layer of the eye. There are many possible causes for conjunctivitis including bacterial and viral infections as well as allergic reactions. Another less common type of conjunctivitis is caused by contact with chemicals; both acidic and alkaline chemicals can cause the symptoms. As well as the redness the individual with conjunctivitis may have eye watering and a feeling of discomfort/ irritation. A common cold can be responsible for viral conjunctivitis while bacterial conjunctivitis can be due to many possible causes.
3. The most noticeable symptom of blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelid. This inflammation usually means a lot of redness, itchiness, crustiness on the eyelid, and general irritation. Another symptom of blepharitis is scaly like skin similar to what can be found with conditions like dandruff. In fact blepharitis can be caused by conditions such as dandruff, but in a lot of cases it will be a bacterial infection. This eye problem is not contagious and it is usually easy to treat. The source of the different eye infections can vary. It may be passed on from an infection elsewhere in the body such as the sinuses. In a lot of instances the normal defences of the eye will have been somehow compromised and this is what made it possible for the infection to arise in the first place.
How is an Eye Infection Treated?
The way to treat an infection will vary depending on the exact cause.
This is why it is important to have the problem checked and diagnosed so that the right treatment can be commenced.
Failing to follow the right treatment path could not only lead to delays in recovery from the condition but potentially lead to further problems. Here are just some of the ways that the different eye infections are commonly treated.
1. The usual for treatment for a stye is antibiotics; this could be oral antibiotics, eye drops/creams containing antibiotics, or both. It is often claimed that holding a warm compress against the eye for a few minutes each day can help relieve some of the symptoms and help speed along recovery. If you occasionally gently massage the area this might also be beneficial for the recovery process.
2. The treatment for Conjunctivitis will always depend on the cause of it. In situations where there is viral culprit there is no specific treatment option; artificial tears and warm compresses can help though. With a bacterial infection it is possible to take antibiotics (eye drops or ointment), but in a lot of cases it will resolve with any intervention. With chemically caused conjunctivitis the treatment will need to be determined by the extent of the injury but will usually involve irrigating the eye.
3. The important thing with blepharitis is that the area is kept clean and no further irritation is allowed near; those who wear contact lenses might be best taking them off until the situation is resolved. Warm compresses can help and so can messaging the eye area. The doctor may decide to prescribe artificial tears or other eye drops to ease the symptoms. If the condition has been caused by something like dandruff then this condition will need to be treated as well. Many people with blepharitis will have thesymptoms again in the future.
How to Avoid Eye Infections
Of course the best way to deal with an infection is to stop getting one in the first place.
Here are a few ideas for how you can reduce your risk of getting this type of infection:
1. Avoid sharing towels or similar items with other people.
2. Wash your hands regularly and avoid touching your eyes. If you have a cold you will need to be particularly mindful of this.
3. If you are going to be working with chemicals you should protect your eyes by wearing plastic goggles.
4. If you wear contact lenses you should never use other people’s contact lens containers or solutions – and it goes without saying that you should never use their lenses.
5. Never use any eye drops that have been prescribed for anyone else.