Are You at Risk for an Eye Infection?


If you’ve experienced red, itchy eyes, you may have wondered whether it’s a symptom of allergies or dry eyes or a more serious condition, such as an eye infection.  Here is an overview of the symptoms associated with both types of ailments.


Symptoms of Allergies or Dry Eyes

  • If you work at a computer for an extended time or have allergies to products or airborne substances, you may experience dry, red or irritated eyes
  • Generally affects both eyes
  • Treatment options usually include resting your eyes  or using an over-the-counter or prescription eye drops, as recommended by your eye doctor

Symptoms of Eye Infections

  • Frequently occurs when bacteria, fungi or viruses attack any part of your eye, including the surface, membrane lining of the outer eye and inner eyelid, interior portions or the soft tissue of the eyelid
  • Infections inside the eye or in the soft tissue of the eyelid are the most dangerous; if left untreated, the condition may spread throughout the eye
  • Symptoms usually include redness, pain, discharge, watering and sensitivity to light; usually occurs only in one eye; if symptoms are detected, immediately contact your eye doctor for an evaluation
  • Types of eye infections:
    • Pink eye (conjunctivitis) – A common  infection that is highly contagious
    • Viral keratitis – An ocular herpes that occurs when exposed to the herpes simplex virus
    • Fungal keratitis – A fungus commonly found in organic matter
    • Acanthamoeba keratitis – A parasite that attacks the eye; individuals wearing contact lenses are at increased risk for contracting this infection
    • Trachoma – Usually found in underdeveloped countries; infects the inner eyelid; eyelashes touching the area can infect the cornea and cause permanent blindness
    • Endophthalmitis – Occurs with a penetrating eye injury or complication following eye surgery; if left untreated, may lead to blindness
  • Tips for prevention and treatment:
    • If you experience symptoms associated with an eye infection, contact your eye doctor immediately; prompt treatment is necessary to reduce the risk of permanent blindness
    • To avoid eye infections, wash your hands throughout the day, especially if you are near an individual with a red eye or other signs of infection; contact lens wearers should follow care and handling instructions provided by their eye doctor