According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, eye infections requiring a trip to the doctor or hospital affect almost a million people each year. Improper use and care of contact lenses play a significant role in many of these infections. Eye infections can be caused by many of the same bacteria and viruses that affect other parts of your body. With proper treatment, many common eye infections do not generally cause any lasting damage to your vision.
Understanding Eye Diseases
Some of the most common eye infections include:
- Bacterial Conjunctivitis – an infection of the clear membrane that surrounds and protects the eye. It is characterized by swelling of the eyelid, a yellowish discharge, and redness and occasional thickening of the membrane around. Bacterial conjunctivitis specifically refers to a form of the condition caused by bacteria.
- Viral Conjunctivitis – similar to bacterial conjunctivitis, but caused by a virus. Sometimes described as “a cold in the eye,” dozens of viruses can cause this type of infection. At times, this infection is part of a more generalized condition, like the flu or a cold, but it can also infect the eye independently.
- Herpes Simplex Eye Disease – caused by a very common virus most people are exposed to in childhood. The virus remains dormant in our bodies, but can cause recurrent infections on the lips, which are cold sores, and in the eyes, which cause recurrent corneal ulcers and intraocular inflammation.
- Infectious Corneal Ulcers – Caused by many types of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites, infectious corneal ulcers are a serious condition that can lead to a rapid loss of vision particularly if left untreated or not properly treated.
- Iritis – a serious inflammatory disorder of the colored part of the eye that does not usually have a specific cause. Iritis frequently recurs to the point that after a few cases, patients often become very astute at early diagnosis.
- Shingles – common in older patients and those with weakened immune systems, this infection can affect nerves in the eye. If you are diagnosed with shingles, particularly if it occurs on your face, you should see an ophthalmologist.
- Stye – common in children, those with chronic lid Infections, and people with diabetes, is commonly used term to describe hordeolum, an acute infection of the hair follicle or glands at the edge of the eyelid. They tend to be painful with prominent swelling and redness.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Eye Infections
In order to ensure your condition is properly diagnosed, for example iritis can sometimes be confused for conjunctivitis, it is important that a complete eye examination is performed. The exam will allow your doctor to fully understand and diagnose your condition. Depending on the results of your exam, our skilled eye doctors can also provide you with recommendations for treatments and a recommended treatment schedule.
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