Having an infection in the eye will lead to redness, irritation, blurred vision, and possibly pain. While most eye infections will cause similar symptoms, the different pathogens which are responsible for infections must be treated differently.
Viral eye infections can cause pink eye or viral corneal ulcers and may need to be treated with betadine or anti-viral medication. Bacterial eye infections can lead to conjunctivitis or a bacterial corneal ulcer.
Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotic eye drops or antibiotic oral medications. Other organisms such as fungi or parasites can also cause infections which may need treatment with antifungal or antiparasitic medications.
It is important that any potential eye infection is examined by an eye doctor to determine the cause and the necessary treatment.
When an eye infection occurs, there are certain symptoms that typically present at first.
Redness, swelling, and irritation of the eyes may be among the symptoms which present as the infection begins.
These symptoms are a result of the eye responding to the foreign organism and the infection.
Other symptoms may include discharge of mucus or water from the eye, pain in or around the eye, light sensitivity, or blurred vision.
While less common, severe symptoms such as loss of vision, intense eye pain, or double vision can occur in some eye infections.
The most common type of eye infection is a viral eye infection. Viral eye infections are responsible for the common pink eye as well as some corneal ulcers.
Pink eyes will not cause much pain but will have severe redness and watering in the eyes. The treatment options for pink eye include artificial tears, a betadine antiseptic washout, or a low dose of steroid eye drops.
Herpes viruses can infect the eyes and lead to corneal ulcers. These corneal ulcers can be painful or completely painless, but they will most often result in reduced vision in the eye.
Antiviral oral medication or antiviral eye drops can be used in cases of herpetic ulcers to prevent the virus from replicating and spreading. This leads to a reduction and resolution of symptoms.
In contact lens wearers, bacterial infections are the most common type of infection. This is due to the higher risk of infection while wearing contact lenses – especially if the lenses are worn overnight.
Bacterial infections will often lead to a painful corneal ulcer or conjunctivitis with lots of mucus discharge.
For bacterial infections, topical antibiotic eye drops are often prescribed to resolve the infection and symptoms.
Beyond viral and bacterial eye infections, other pathogens such as fungi and parasites can infect the eyes.
These types of infections are more common in those with depressed immune systems or after an injury to the eye.
If there is a fungal eye infection, it is likely that some type of vegetative or organic matter caused an injury to the eye and exposed the eye to the fungus.
Fungal infections can be treated with either oral or eye drop antifungal medications.
Parasites can infect the eyes when given an opportunity such as wearing contact lenses in a hot tub or lake. These infections may need to be treated with systemic treatment including oral medication or IV medication.