Eye infections are uncomfortable occurrences that can happen when a person has been exposed to a virus, bacteria, or fungus. Certain infections (if not treated well) affect different areas of the eyes, causing severe issues. The most common eye infections are conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, and styes. Conjunctivitis causes inflammation that makes the white of the eye turn pink or red. Styes are red bumps on the eyelid that can be painful and may cause swelling or tearing of the eye. Left untreated, many eye infections can lead to corneal ulcers, which may eventually cause vision loss.
Symptoms of eye infections generally include watery, red eyes, but certain infections can cause the eyes to dry up to a painful level. Swelling, itching, pain, and discharge may occur around or in the eye. On some occasions, especially with conjunctivitis, patients may feel as though their eyes are glued shut upon waking up due to excess of dried drainage accumulating between the eyelids. Other symptoms include sensitivity to light and blurred vision, as well as difficulty reading or seeing in the distance.
Infections of the eye are most commonly transmitted by direct contact, and this is generally the case in children that are experiencing an infection. Because children don’t always wash their hands properly, they can transmit bacteria, fungus, or viruses by simply rubbing their eyes with their fingers or sleeping on a pillow that has been touched by infected hands. Parents are also susceptible to eye infections because of their children. In certain cases, infections can be passed on at birth if the mother has an untreated sexually transmitted disease, but this is exceedingly rare.
Some eye infections go away on their own, but it is important to consult with a doctor if an infection is suspected. Symptoms may clear up, but the underlying cause may still be of concern and require treatment. As mentioned, ignoring eye infections can lead to long-term complications starting at minor disturbances in vision but increasing in severity all the way to permanent vision loss. An experienced eye doctor can consult with patients and let them know the diagnosis and the severity of the infection.
There are several forms of treatment, and they are dependent on whether the infection is viral, bacterial, or fungal. Generally, viral infections simply require time and rest to clear up, but severe situations require anti-viral drops. Bacterial infections are usually treated with antibiotics, and fungal infections are eradicated through the use of fungicides. Some less severe infections are cured through consistent use of warm compresses and over-the-counter medications. An ophthalmologist can assess every eye infection and determine the best course of action on a case by case basis.
The best way to prevent the occurrence of eye infections is to maintain a clean environment and constantly wash your hands. Pillows and sheets should be cleaned regularly, especially in children’s beds. Following these simple steps will put you on the right track to avoiding infections in the future.
If you are experiencing eye infections, contact South Bay Eye Care today and we’ll help you resolve your issues.
Dr. Su, a Board Certified Doctor of Optometry, offers personalized vision care service in a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere.
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