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Types Of Eye Infections: Their Symptoms And Possible Treatments

Category : 
Author : Dr Deepak Garg

Introduction

Eye infection is a very broad term that describes all types of infections in the eye. There are quite a few types that can range from being mild to severe and even vision-threatening. Most commonly, however, people use the term “infectious conjunctivitis” or pink eye while referring to eye infections.

Conjunctivitis

This is the commonest type of eye infection. Conjunctivitis can be infective conjunctivitis or allergic conjunctivitis. Allergic reactions are more common, caused by things like air pollution and pet dander, however, infective conjunctivitis is what we will talk about here. Normally when we say conjunctivitis we refer to the infective kind. 

Types of Conjunctivitis

  1. Viral conjunctivitis. 
  2. Bacterial conjunctivitis
  3. Allergic conjunctivitis.

Infective conjunctivitis can be bacterial conjunctivitis or viral conjunctivitis. Very rarely do other types of organisms cause this infection.  Viral infections are more common than bacterial infections. The other rarer forms of infective conjunctivitis are Fungal conjunctivitis, Gonococcal Conjunctivitis an

Causes of Conjunctivitis

Infectious conjunctivitis can occur because of

  1. Exposure to another who has a similar infection.
  2. One can also get this infection because of contact lenses
  3. Swimming

Symptoms  of Conjunctivitis

 Common pink eye symptoms are:

  1. Redness - Mild redness
  2. Watery discharge
  3. Itching
  4. Poking or a foreign body sensation
  5. Mucous discharge - sticky yellow fluid
  6. Lid Swelling - Affected eye looks smaller
  7. Subconjunctival haemorrhage - Eyes become very red
  8. Blurred vision
  9. Eye pain
  10. Sensitivity to light

Treatments of Conjunctivitis

Recommended treatment includes one or more of the following and would depend on the type of conjunctivitis and the severity of conjunctivitis. Usually, it takes 7-12 days of treatment.

  1. Antibiotic eye drops
  2. Artificial Tears - over the counter eye drops
  3. Antibiotic ointment
  4. Oral antibiotics
  5. Antihistamine eye drops
  6. Anti-inflammatory eye drops
  7. Corticosteroid eye drops - used rarely when associated with blurry vision

Keratitis

Keratitis is not a common type of eye infection of the cornea but a serious eye condition that can lead to permanent vision loss. These could be bacterial infections or viral or fungal infections.

Causes of Keratitis

Injury to the cornea with some external object, something even as simple as the edge of a paper or a fingernail.

Blocked tear ducts - which drain out fluid from the eye into the nose. This blockage is treated by a surgery known as DCR.

Symptoms of Keratitis

  1. Pain - Can be very severe pain
  2. Blurry Vision
  3. Eye Redness
  4. Whitish spot on the cornea
  5. Watering
  6. Mucous discharge
  7. Sensitivity to light

Treatments of Keratitis

  1. Antibiotic eye drops
  2. Antifungal eye drops
  3. Antiviral eye drops
  4. Lubricating eye drops
  5. Corneal scraping
  6. Eye Surgery - Penetrating keratoplasty or a corneal transplant. Read more about corneal transplants.

Endophthalmitis

Endophthalmitis is the most dreaded eye infection. It occurs when the back part of the eye gets infected. This infection can potentially lead to complete vision loss. Treatment of this is a medical emergency. These infections could be bacterial infections which are most common but could also be viral and fungal infections. Fungal eye infections are the worst.

Causes of Endophthalmitis

  1. Cataract surgery - Most common cause
  2. Any other eye surgery - Only intraocular surgeries usually cause this type of infection
  3. Weak immunity - An infection in another part of the body spreads to the eye because of low immunity. These could be sinus infections, ear infections, urinary infections ( burning sensation during urination) or even a respiratory infection or a sore throat.

Symptoms of Endophthalmitis

  1. Pain - Mild, moderate to severe pain
  2. Loss of vision
  3. Eye redness
  4. Eyelid Swelling
  5. Sensitivity to bright light 

Treatments of Endophthalmitis

  1. Antibiotic eye drops
  2. Antibiotic eye injections
  3. Antifungal eye drops - If it is a fungal eye infection
  4. Anti Fungal eye Injections 
  5. Corticosteroid eye drops
  6. Dilating eye drops
  7. Eye Surgery - Vitrectomy

Cellulitis

Cellulitis is one of those infections that should be treated like an ophthalmic emergency to prevent very serious complications. One could have preseptal cellulitis or Orbital cellulitis. Preseptal is less of a serious condition as compared to orbital cellulitis

Causes of Cellulitis

  1. Injury to the eyelid
  2. Stye in Eye
  3. Low immunity
  4. Boil on the lid

Symptoms  of Cellulitis

  1. Pain
  2. Lid swelling
  3. Eyelid redness
  4. Blurry vision
  5. Eye redness

Treatments of Cellulitis

  1. Antibiotic drops
  2. Antibiotic tablets
  3. Intravenous Antibiotics
  4. Anti-inflammatory tablets
  5. Pain killers
  6. Sometimes if the condition is severe may need a hospital admission to monitor patient
  7. If the infection is not decreasing surgery may be necessary to reduce the infective load and remove the infected tissue. One may lose their vision if the infection spreads.

Stye in Eye

A stye is a small pimple-like swelling on the lid margin.  It appears because the oil glands (Meibomian Glands) on the lid margin get blocked. This oil gland later gets infected leading to the formation of a stye. This too is a common condition.  A more detailed explanation of a stye is here.

Symptoms of Stye

  1. Swelling on the eyelid like a bump
  2. Generalized swelling of the eyelid
  3. Painful lump
  4. Tenderness - There is pain on touch 
  5. Eyelid redness
  6. Bursting of lump - this could be on the outside which is the skin or on the inside which is towards the eye.
  7. Mild to moderate redness of the eye sometimes.

Treatments of Stye

Your eye specialist would advise you on one or more of the following

  1. Hot fomentation or warm compresses - A napkin is dipped in warm or hot water and this is applied to the eyelid bump
  2. Antibiotic eye ointment
  3. Antibiotic drops
  4. Antibiotic tablets if the swelling is not reducing

Other treatments to prevent styes may include

  • Routine hot fomentation
  • Lid scrubs with a baby shampoo
  • Light therapy for the oil glands of the lids

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is one of the common eye infections. It is like dandruff on the eyelashes.

Symptoms of Blepharitis

  1. Eye irritation
  2. Foreign body sensation
  3. Whitish flakes on the eyelashes
  4. Eye Redness
  5. Watering

Treatments of Blepharitis

  1. Lid Scrubs - with a cue tip and baby shampoo
  2. Antibiotic eye ointment
  3. Lubricating eye drops
  4. Antihistamine eye drops
  5. Anti-inflammatory eye drops

Uveitis

Uveitis is a condition when one of the three parts of the eye which make up the uveal tissue gets inflamed. The three parts are Iris, Ciliary body and Choroid. Usually, this condition is auto-immune in nature but can also be because of an infection. Autoimmune Uveitis is caused by health conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, SLE, 

Symptoms of Uveitis

  1. Pain
  2. Redness of eyes
  3. Watering
  4. Light sensitivity
  5. Blurry vision

Treatments of Uveitis

  1. Antibiotic eye drops
  2. Corticosteroid eye drops
  3. Dilating eye drops
  4. Eye injections - Antibiotics, Antifungals or Antivirals
  5. Systemic antibiotics
  6. Systemic Steroids - to reduce the risk of losing vision

Conclusion

You will notice that many of the symptoms of different types of eye infections are common. Reading these types of articles is important but they don't replace a visit to the eye doctor. If you experience these symptoms you must consult your eye doctor to understand which infection you have and start the appropriate treatment. You can visit us at Eye Solutions - Eye Hospital in Mumbai here.

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