Eye Infections

What are eye infections?

Eye infections are typically caused by bacterial, viral or fungal organisms that find their way into the eye. Different infections have different causes and treatments. Eye infections are very common and easily treatable, and most people will suffer from at least one in their lifetime. They can infect any part of the eye, including the eyelids, the cornea and even the retina, which is located in the back of the eye.

Infections can occur in one or both eyes, and occur at any time, regardless of age or background. Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is the most common eye infection that affects people. Trachoma, which is more common in underdeveloped countries, can often lead to blindness.

What are common symptoms of eye infections?

Typical symptoms include redness, itching, irritation, discharge, puffiness, twitching, flaking eyelids and reduced vision.

What causes eye infections?

Eye infections are either bacterial, fungal, or viral. Anytime dirty or unsanitised substances enter the eye, a potential eye infection can occur. Bad hand hygiene whilst wearing contact lenses can also lead to eye infections.

How are eye infections treated?

Common treatments for eye infections include antibiotics, eye drops, creams or cold or hot compresses to alleviate symptoms. More severe infections such as acanthamoeba keratitis will need more aggressive treatments, while infections caused by viruses will also need antiviral therapy.

How can you avoid eye infections?

Some infections spread quite easily from person to person, it’s advisable that you are careful around others who have infections. Avoid getting to close to their face, or handling the same items until the infection has cleared.

When wearing contact lenses, make sure to wash your hands whilst removing, inserting and cleaning your lenses. With the exception of extended wear lenses, (which can be worn continuously up to a week) avoid wearing lenses for longer than 12 hours a day. We recommend consulting with an optometrist before wearing extended wear lenses to discuss whether your eyes can tolerate them.

Quick links:

Do I need an eye test?
A guide to light sensitivity
A guide to blurry vision
A guide to dry eyes



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