Eye infections can develop due to bacteria, fungi or viruses. They can occur in one or both eyes, and tend to produce uncomfortable symptoms, including itchiness, redness, swelling and discharge, among many others. Many eye infections will not improve on their own and can worsen quickly, so it's important to seek prompt medical attention.
The symptoms you experience will depend on the type of infection present. However, some of the most common eye infection symptoms include:
- Red or watery eyes
- Itching and swelling
- Eye discharge
- Blurry vision
If you're experiencing the symptoms of an eye infection or irritation, we recommend making an appointment with an eye doctor promptly. This is particularly important if your symptoms appear to be worsening and are interfering with your ability to partake in your normal daily activities, such as driving safely, working, etc.
Common eye infections
Also known as conjunctivitis, pink eye is the irritation or inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the white area of the eyeball. It's extremely contagious and may cause redness, itching, excessive tearing, discharge and crusting. Additional classic signs include eyelids that are stuck shut in the morning and a persistent feeling that there's sand in your eye. If you notice any of these signs, stop wearing your contact lenses and schedule an appointment immediately. If it's determined that you have pink eye, Dr. Benjamin will prescribe eye drops and ointment to clear this extremely contagious infection and prevent further damage.
Styes develop when the small glands along the eyelids become clogged. They are filled with pus and can typically be treated with a warm washcloth. If the stye does not improve within a few days of caring for it at home, you should schedule an eye doctor appointment for an examination.
Blepharitis refers to the inflammation of the eyelids, causing redness, soreness and crusting. It's a chronic condition that can be treated with hot compresses, eyelid scrubs and antibiotic ointment.
Infected tear duct
An infected tear duct refers to inflammation affecting the tear draining system. It develops when bacteria slowly build up in a blocked tear duct, resulting in an infection. Symptoms include excessive tearing, redness and/or discharge, and the infection is most often treated with oral antibiotics. If the stye doesn't respond to medication, surgery may be necessary to remove the blockage and clear the infection.
What to expect during your appointment
During your appointment, Dr. Benjamin and Dr. Golchet will focus on determining which infection or irritation is causing the problem. They will ask about your health history and symptoms, before carefully examining your eyes. If your symptoms are particularly severe or they notice an infection in the cornea, they will sample drainage from your eye as well.