Eye infections can occur when harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi invade any part of your eye or the area surrounding your eye. This includes the cornea (the front surface of your eye), the conjunctiva (the thin membrane lining your inner eyelids and outer eye), or the eyelids. Some serious eye infections can penetrate even deeper into the interior portions of your eye, creating conditions like endophthalmitis that can threaten your sight.
Symptoms of Eye Infection
Chicago Ophthalmologist Dr. Golden will carefully evaluate your symptoms to determine whether or not you have an eye infection. Some non-infectious conditions – such as dry eyes and allergies – can give you symptoms that are similar to an eye infection. However, most eye infections only affect one eye, whereas allergies and dry eyes tend to affect both eyes at the same time.
Some of the most common symptoms of eye infection include:
- Sensitivity to light
Types of Eye Infections
Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is one of the most common types of eye infections. It is a highly contagious viral keratitis that often spreads among children in classrooms and day care centers. Teachers and workers are at an increased risk of pink eye while they are working in close quarters with children.
Other examples of eye infections include:
Bacterial keratitis – This is unfortunately a much too common complication of those who wear contact lenses. The yearly risk of a corneal ulcer from contact lenses is about one in 600 and the life-time risk of blindness one in 40,000. In contrast, the risk of blindness from LASIK is much less than one in 1,000,000. Bacterial corneal ulcers most commonly start as a foreign body feeling in an eye with a contact lens that becomes worse with time. It is important to remove your contact lenses immediately, if you suspect bacterial keratitis. From first sign of infection to blindness can be as little as 24 hours with infections such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
- Fungal keratitis – In 2006, a now-defunct contact lens solution was linked to an outbreak of fungal keratitis associated with Fusarium fungi. This and other types of fungi can enter the eye through an injury.
- Acanthamoeba keratitis – Contact lenses put you at an increased risk of parasites that can cause sight-threatening infections. Never wear your contacts while swimming, and be sure you abide by all safety standards for washing, storing, and wearing your contact lenses.
- Trachoma – Trachoma is an infection of the inner eyelid and is very common in sub-Shaharan Africa and one of the leading causes of blindness world-wide. Once infected, eyelids begin to scar, making it turn inward and causing your eyelashes to brush against the delicate tissue of your cornea.
- Endophthalmitis – If an infection penetrates the interior of your eye, potent antibiotics are necessary in order to prevent blindness. This kind of infection is often the result of a penetrating eye injury. Any time your eyeball is significantly penetrated and injured, you have a 4–8% chance of contracting endophthalmitis.
If you live in the Chicago or Arlington Heights areas of Illinois and are showing signs of a possible eye infection, please contact our Chicago area ophthalmologist at Doctors For Visual Freedom as soon as possible to set up a consultation.