Eye infections are a common occurrence especially since the eye is such a delicate and sensitive organ. There are many different types of eye infections that can affect people of all ages, but they are especially common in young children. Eye infections can range from mild and irritating to serious and sight-threatening. 

Knowing how to detect the different types of eye infections is important in order to get the proper treatment and care. This article will provide an overview of the different types of eye infections, their symptoms, and how they are treated.

Types of Eye Infections

From serious to minor, there are many different types of eye infections that can cause a variety of symptoms. Here is a list of common eye infections and their symptoms:

  • Conjunctivitis: A common eye infection known as “pink eye.” It is usually caused by a bacterial infection, viral infection, or allergy. Bacterial conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can be spread as long as there is discharge from the eye. Viral conjunctivitis can be contagious even before symptoms appear. Symptoms include redness, itchiness, watery discharge, and a burning sensation.
  • Stye: A painful bump that develops on the eyelid. It is caused by a blocked oil gland and can be very uncomfortable. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and redness around the affected area. 
  • Corneal Ulcer: A serious condition that occurs when an open sore is on the surface of the eye. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection or contact lens overwear and can lead to vision loss if not treated properly. Symptoms include pain, redness, and blurred vision. 
  • Herpes Simplex: A viral infection that can cause sores on the eyelid and around the eye. It is a very contagious infection and can be very painful, and symptoms include pain, itchiness, redness, and watery discharge. 
  • Acanthamoeba Keratitis: Inflammation of the cornea caused by a waterborne amoeba. Symptoms of keratitis include pain, redness, blurred vision, and light sensitivity. 
  • Fungal Keratitis: A fungal infection of the eye. It is often caused by contaminated contact lenses,dirty water, or organic material getting into the eye. Symptoms include pain, redness, blurry vision, and discharge. 
  • Endophthalmitis: A serious condition that occurs when there is inflammation of the inner parts of the eye. It can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection and can lead to vision loss if not treated properly. You are at risk for developing endophthalmitis if you have had cataract surgery, intravitreal injections (for macular degeneration), filtering bleb (for glaucoma), corneal infection, or bacteremia.
  • Uveitis: Inflammation of the uvea, which is the middle layer of the eye. It can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, or an auto-immune condition and can lead to vision loss if not treated properly. Symptoms include pain, redness, blurred vision, and light sensitivity. 
  • Blepharitis: Inflammation of the eyelids. It is usually caused by a bacterial infection and can be very uncomfortable. Symptoms include itchiness, redness, flaking, and crusting around the affected area.
  • Cellulitis: A serious bacterial infection that can occur anywhere on the body. However, it is often seen around the eyes and can lead to vision loss if not treated properly. Preseptal cellulitis is a type of cellulitis that occurs around the eye, while orbital cellulitis is a type of cellulitis that occurs inside the eye socket. Symptoms of both types include pain, redness, swelling, and blurred vision.
  • Dacryocystitis: Inflammation of the tear ducts. It is usually caused by a blockage in the tear ducts and can be very painful. Symptoms include pain, redness, watery discharge, and swelling around the affected area.
  • Old Cosmetics/makeup: Eye infections or allergic reactions can also be caused by old or expired makeup. Bacteria can grow and multiply in cosmetics, leading to an eye infection. Symptoms include redness, itchiness, watery discharge, and a burning sensation.

Diagnosis

If you think you or your child may have an eye infection, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Eye infections can often be diagnosed based on the symptoms. However, a doctor may need to do a physical examination of the eye and order tests, such as a culture of the discharge from the eye, to confirm the diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment of eye infections are important to prevent serious complications.

Treatment

Treatment will depend on the cause. For bacterial infections, oral antibiotics or antibiotic eye drops will be prescribed. There is no specific treatment for viral infections, but the symptoms can be treated with medication, artificial tears, and cold compresses. 

Hospitalization and surgery may be necessary for more serious conditions, such as corneal ulcers or endophthalmitis. 

Prevention

Some measures can be taken to prevent eye infections, such as washing your hands regularly and avoiding touching your eyes. It is also important to clean your contact lenses properly and throw away any expired or damaged lenses, and not sleep in them if they are not extended wear lenses. If you suffer from blepharitis, it is important to keep the area around your eyes clean and free of makeup. 

Pediatric Eye Infections

Eye infections are very common in young children and infants. The most common type of eye infection in children is conjunctivitis or pink eye. Babies often have blocked tear ducts which can lead to conjunctivitis. 

Infants and young children are also at risk for more serious conditions, such as bacterial keratitis and endophthalmitis. Pediatric eye infections often occur because of close contact with other children and the immaturity of their immune systems. 

Symptoms of an eye infection in a child may include:

  • Eye pain
  • Redness
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Drainage from the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Swelling around the eye

Protect Your Eyes

Eye infections can be serious, so it’s important to know what to look for and how to treat them. With prompt treatment, most eye infections will clear up within a few days. If you have concerns about an eye infection in yourself or your child, schedule an appointment with our optometrists at Youth Dental & Vision. Call (303) 953-8801 or email [email protected]. We offer vision appointments at our two locations in Denver: Grove St and Hampden Ave, as well as in Aurora and Thornton. Your eyes are our #1 priority!