Healthy Living

Eye Infections: Bacterial, Viral, and Fungal

Eye Infections: Bacterial, Viral, and Fungal

Key Takeaways

  • Eye infections can be caused by different microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, or fungi. 
  • Proper eye hygiene will prevent eye infections and their recurrence, regardless of what the cause is.  
  • Sharing makeup, towels, clothes, or pillow cases should be avoided in order to prevent the spread of an eye infection.

Eye infections occur when various harmful microorganisms invade the eyes. They can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. When suspecting an eye infection, you should go and get a detailed eye examination from an eye doctor. Trying to self-diagnose and even self-treat eye problems and eye infections is not a wise thing to do. Sometimes, you can worsen the condition by doing so.

Most eye infections are harmless and can be treated. However, they often reoccur and can even complicate your eyes and cause vision problems and loss of vision when the infection affects deeper eye layers.

Contact lenses should be avoided if you have an eye infection regardless of its nature. Eyeglasses are recommended instead.

Signs and symptoms of eye infections

Characteristic signs and symptoms of eye infections include:

  • Pain in the eyes
  • Eye redness
  • Swollen eyes
  • Itching
  • Tearing
  • Eye discharge
  • Dry eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light

Types of infections

Conjunctivitis – also known as pink eye, it is a condition characterized by the infection of the whites of the eyes. It is a highly contagious eye infection, and can spread from one person to another. The origin of conjunctivitis is often viral or bacterial.

Viral keratitis – is an inflammation of the cornea caused by a virus, like herpes simplex virus.

Ocular herpes – is a viral infection of the eyes caused by herpes simplex virus – 1 (HSV-1). It can affect any layer of the eyes, sometimes causing even permanent scarring and loss of vision.

Fungal keratitis – is an inflammation of the cornea caused by a fungus. The cornea is the anterior part of the eye which covers the pupil.

Blepharitis – is the inflammation of the eyelids, usually affecting both of the eyelids in the part where the eyelashes grow. It is not contagious and it will also not affect the vision.

Chalazion – is a benign and painless nodule, which can occur in the upper or lower eyelid. These nodules, which feel like cysts, form usually around the oil glands on eyelids, leading to swollen and red eyelids. They present a bacterial infection of the oil glands, sometimes even painful when they are developing.

Eye doctors are trained to recognize various eye infections caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi due to a different appearance of the surface of the eye and the retina, the affection of one or both of the eyes, the progression of the disease, as well as from a complete medical history.

Eye infection treatment

The treatment of eye infections depends from its cause and the severity of the infection. Bacterial, viral, or fungal eye infections have different treatments.

The most important thing regardless of the microorganism that has causes the infection is good eye hygiene. Sharing makeup, towels, clothes, or pillow cases should be avoided in order to prevent the spread of an eye infection.

Bacterial eye infections are treated with topical antibiotic eye drops or ointments, as well as with oral antibiotic drugs,

Viral eye infections require antiviral therapy, topical, or even oral.

Fungal eye infections require antifungal therapy, topical or even oral.