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All About Eye Infections

Eyes might appear like simple organs, but the reality is that they are comprised of blood vessels, nerves, as well as other parts that have to work properly for you to see. Just as with other body organs, the eyes can get infected with viruses, fungi, or bacteria.

Eye infections are not only discomforting and quite painful but can also be very terrifying. Nobody wishes to risk their vision even just temporarily because of an infection, after all. If you have or think you have an eye infection, then it is important to seek medical attention.

You can receive treatment for your eye infection by walking into our urgent care clinic either with or without an appointment, whichever option is most convenient for you. Our friendly and competent medical professionals will examine you and determine the most appropriate course of action.

What is an Eye Infection?

Eye infections are of different types and are caused by several different things such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, and other parasites as previously stated. Eye infections are usually classified by the part of the eye that is inflamed.

For instance, conjunctivitis refers to the inflammation of the membrane of the inner eyelid as well as the inner corner of the eye’s surface. Inflammation may also occur in other parts of the eye including the retina, cornea, eyelid, and many others.

Eye infections may also be classified by whatever is causing them. For instance, Ocular Histoplasmosis Syndrome (OHS) is caused by a fungus that results in the retina’s blood supply being attacked. Eye infections can also be caused by Lyme disease, leprosy, tuberculosis (TB), STIs, and more.

Conjunctivitis is the most common out of all the different eye infections. It is often referred to as pink eye and is commonly found in children. It is can be caused by a virus or bacteria that easily spreads from the eyes to the hands to other eyes through the surfaces that people touch.

Signs and Symptoms of Eye Infections

Eye infections usually cause a wide range of symptoms and you should thus pay attention to anything that seems unusual to you. Pain is the most common sign of an eye infection. The pain can be mild or intense, and can be either dull but consistent or come and go. The pain can be aggravated by various things like wind, touch, or bright lights.

You may also experience visual disturbances and frequent tearing, or evidence of an infection may turn up during tests. A feeling of “fullness” in the eye, as if something is applying pressure on it is another common sign of eye infection. Other people may experience a “foreign body sensation” or feeling that something is caught in the eye, such as a dust particle.

Other signs that may indicate an eye infection include:

– Blurred vision

– Fever that does not seem to have another cause

– Discharge from the eye, especially if yellowish or green

– Eyes that water or tear non-stop for no apparent reason

If you experience any of the symptoms listed here, you need to visit our urgent care clinic immediately since untreated eye infections may lead to permanent vision loss. Our competent medical professionals can evaluate the problem and prescribe the most appropriate course of treatment for the symptoms that you are experiencing.

The Most Common Eye Infections

1. Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is also known as pink eye and is one of the commonest infections of the eye. It is very contagious and easily spreads quickly. Treatment for the condition depends on the cause. While the infection runs its course, it is important to ensure that you avoid contact with other people and keep your hands washed frequently.

If your conjunctivitis is caused by eye irritants, the problem can be easily cleared up by washing the eye with water. Bacteria conjunctivitis is treated using antibiotics that are available in eye drop, ointment, and pill format. Viral conjunctivitis lasts for up to a week and is not treated using antibiotics since it is caused by viruses and not bacteria.

2. Ocular Histoplasmosis Syndrome

Histoplasmosis is a fungal infection affecting the lungs and it common in river valleys around the world. The infection usually doesn’t cause any symptoms in most cases, but it sometimes migrates to the retina of the eyes many years or decades later. Once it reaches the retina, it causes significant damage especially to the macula where there’s a high concentration of vision cells.

The infection causes symptoms of retinal decay that closely resemble macular degeneration and can destroy the central part of the field of vision. While just a small percentage of the people with histoplasmosis eventually suffer OHS, it is such a common fungus, that it is a significant cause of legal blindness in Americans aged between 20 and 40 years.

3. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are very common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can cause conjunctivitis even though they don’t typically cause significant eye damage in adults. The infection typically gets into the eye if an infected person rubs his/her eyes after getting into contact with genital areas that are infected or directly through genital fluids.

4. Herpes Simplex

It is a widely prevalent virus that can be caught as an STI or as a skin disease (cold sores). The herpes virus can infect the eye in the same way as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Like the two diseases, herpes can cause ulceration and pitting of the cornea. Chronic herpes infection is rather uncommon and may cause acute retinal necrosis especially in men. This leads to major destruction of retinal tissue and dramatic vision damage.

5. Shingles

Shingles are a reactivation of the virus that initially causes chickenpox. Sores referred to as shingles are infection and can lead to chickenpox in others. They can cause ocular infection if you touch the eyes after you touch a sore. Acute retinal necrosis in the young is mostly caused by herpes simplex, but the leading cause in those over 50 years of age is varicella zoster since shingles is more common in this age group.

6. Bacterial Keratitis

It is an infection of the cornea by bacteria usually found on the mouth, nose, and skin. The bacteria are normally unable to penetrate the eye’s outer layer and can cause only conjunctivitis. However, a weak immune system, lack of oxygen due to contact lenses, and eye injury can all facilitate entry into the cornea. Fungi may also cause fungal keratitis under the same circumstances.

Eye Infection Treatment

If you have or think you have an eye infection, you can be treated at our urgent care clinic. The first thing that we usually do is diagnose your problem. We will examine your eye carefully and if no discharge or pus is observed, it may be cultured to identify the organism. We may also test you for other common diseases like chlamydia or herpes simplex.

Viral conjunctivitis usually improves after several days even without treatment. However, broad-spectrum antibiotics may be prescribed to help clear up any viral symptoms and issues. If you test positive for diseases such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, specific antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat and cure such infections.

If your eye infection is caused by a parasite or fungus, our doctors will treat it using various medications. For the more serious causes of eye infections, such as tuberculosis or syphilis, the body has to be treated first before the eye problems disappear.

If you are experiencing symptoms of an eye infection, you need to get in touch with our urgent care clinic to schedule your appointment. If you prefer to walk in without an appointment, you should consider pre-registering online so that your future walk-in visits are more convenient.