Eye Infection: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
Keep reading to learn about common causes of eye infections and what to do about them.
Conjunctivitis may be allergic, infectious, or chemical.
Allergic conjunctivitis is more common in people who experience seasonal allergies, such as hay fever. It can trigger symptoms that irritate their eyes.
Giant papillary conjunctivitis is allergic conjunctivitis that happens when someone has something constantly in their eye. For example, people might be more likely to develop this condition if they wear hard contact lenses or have a suture or false eye.
Bacterial conjunctivitis usually happens due to staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria. This can come from insects, physical contact with other people, poor hygiene, or affected makeup products.
Viral conjunctivitis is the
In some cases, forcefully blowing your nose can cause mucus with the virus to move from your sinuses to your tear ducts and eyes if you have a cold yourself.
Ophthalmia neonatorum happens in newborn infants and is a severe type of infectious conjunctivitis. It can happen if an infant comes into contact with chlamydia or gonorrhea while passing through the birth canal. It can cause permanent eye damage.
Irritants such as air pollution, chlorine in swimming pools, and exposure to harmful chemicals can cause chemical conjunctivitis.
Treatment for conjunctivitis
Treatment for conjunctivitis will depend on its type but can involve:
- removing the irritant, treating the underlying infection or virus, or improving hygiene
- topical steroid drops
- flushing the eyes with saline solution
- oral antihistamines
- anti-inflammatory medications
Learn when to see a doctor for conjunctivitis.
Stye causes a small, pimple-like swollen area on the eyelid, usually close to the eye itself. There may be pus, and it may be painful and cause irritation. It is an acute bacterial infection usually due to S aureus bacteria. It may:
- rupture and the drain
- happen alongside conjunctivitis or blepharitis
- cause a chalazion, which looks like a red bump on your eyelid
Styes usually go away by themselves within 1–2 weeks.
Treatment for stye
Treatment and management tips for styes can include:
- using warm compresses
- vertically massaging the eyelid gently
Contact a doctor for topical antibiotics if it does not improve after a couple of days, starts draining or worsening.
Learn when to see a doctor for a stye.
The most common infection from wearing contact lenses is keratitis. It happens when the cornea becomes infected. The cornea is the clear covering over the eye. This infection may cause cornea scarring, so it is important to seek treatment if you think you may have keratitis.
- using extended-wear contact lenses
- sleeping with contact lenses in
- microbes building up under the lens
- herpes virus
- certain bacteria, fungi, or parasites
- lack of hygiene regarding lenses or the contact lens solution
Treatment for keratitis
Treatment for keratitis
Timely treatment can reduce the risk of serious complications, including ulcers and blindness.
Learn about corneal ulcers from keratitis.
You may experience all or just a few of these symptoms, and at times any of these symptoms can be severe. Symptoms include:
- burning feeling
- crusting on eyelid margins
- discharge from the eye
- eye pain
- eyelids or eyelashes stuck together when you wake up
- the feeling of grittiness or sand in your eye
- increased sensitivity to light
- increased tear production
- itchy eyes
- red, sore eyes (bloodshot eyes)
- swelling of your eyelids and the skin around your eye
You should always contact a doctor if you think you may have an eye infection or if you have eye symptoms that are persistent or worsening.
In some cases, eye infections can be a
Many factors increase the risk of developing eye infections. Not all people with risk factors will get eye infections. Risk factors for infections
- allergies that inflame the eye
- contact lens wear, especially when used for extended periods or without proper cleaning and storage
- exposure to others with eye infections
- infection with a common cold
- irritation in the eyes
- use of shared cosmetics, personal care items, or linens
Some eye infections are contagious and spread very easily. You can reduce your likelihood of catching or spreading eye infections by following good hygiene practices, including washing your hands frequently.
You may be able to lower your risk of eye infections by:
- avoiding close contact with people who have eye infections
- avoiding touching your eyes
- following your healthcare professional’s instructions on wearing, cleaning, and storing your contact lenses
- using disposable tissues rather than cloth handkerchiefs
- washing your hands often
Most eye infections are not serious. However, in some cases, or with preexisting conditions, eye infections may be more serious and jeopardize your vision and health. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your healthcare professional designed specifically for you.
Left untreated, eye infections can lead to serious complications, including:
- change in the growth or position of the eyelashes, resulting in abrasion and irritation of the eye surface
- corneal damage and scarring,
resulting Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to sourcein vision impairment
- loss of vision and blindness
- orbital cellulitis (invasive infection of the soft tissues around the eye)
- spread of infection
Here are some commonly asked questions about eye infections. Katherine E. Duncan, M.D., has reviewed the answers.
Do eye infections go away on their own?
Eye infections caused by viruses are generally mild and usually resolve on their own within a week or two. An exception is an eye infection caused by the herpes simplex virus, which can be a serious eye infection.
Bacterial eye infections often require antibiotic treatment. Because a serious eye infection can affect vision, it’s important to see a physician if your symptoms are severe or last longer than 2 days.
You should contact your healthcare professional immediately if you have any vision changes.
What is the most common eye infection?
According to a
What is the fastest way to cure an eye infection?
The fastest way to cure an eye infection will depend on its cause. The fastest way to ease symptoms and diagnose and treat the underlying cause of an eye infection will be to see a medical professional.
An eye infection is a bacterial or viral infection of the eye or the tissue immediately surrounding the eye.
Common eye infections include conjunctivitis, often called pink eye, which affects the membrane that lines the inside of your eyelids and covers the whites of the eyes, and blepharitis, which affects the eyelid margin.
Although infections of the cornea, the clear “window” over the center of your eye, are not common, they can seriously affect your vision. Contact lenses contribute to eye infections if worn for extended periods or without proper cleaning.