Eye infections are a relatively common health problem caused by various infective agents including bacteria, viruses, fungi and even parasites. Different parts of the eye may be affected starting from the the conjunctiva and ending with the retina. Superficial eye infections are somehow much easier to be dealt with compared to infections that penetrate deep into the eye or affect several layers at the same time. It is of utmost importance to recognize an eye infection as soon as possible and promptly initiate the treatment this way preventing potential complications among which the most severe one is loss of vision.
Symptoms Suggesting Eye Infections
It is not so hard to recognize certain symptoms of eye infections especially if infectious agents attack the front portion of the eye, the one available for examination by the naked eye. Viral infections for instance, cause excessive tearing but there is no pus coming from the eye. Redness of the affected portions is also present due to increased blood circulation. Infections of the conjunctiva or cornea may cause gritty sensation, sensitivity to light and problems opening the affected eye especially in case of bacterial infections when large portions of pus accumulate and make the eye lids stick together. Only one eye or both eyes are affected at the same time. There is also possibility that one spreads infective agents from one eye to the other by touching the affected eye and then rubbing the other without previously washing his/her hands.
One of the most common eye infections is pink eye (conjunctivitis). It is frequent among children and can be viral or bacterial in origin. In infants conjunctivitis is usually bacterial and contracted from the mother when the child passes down the birth canal while the mother is suffering from active gonoccocal or chlamydial infection.
When it comes to infection of the cornea it predominantly develops due to Herpes simplex virus. Viral keratitis is sometimes severe infection if ulcers affecting the cornea progress and affect deeper layers of the organ. The cornea may get inflamed due to fungi too. Fungal infections of the eye may be quite severe sometimes even causing permanent loss of vision. Contact lenses are many times blamed for transfer of fungi. These vision aids may also contribute to transmission of acantoamoeba, an infectious agent responsible for acanthamoeba keratitis.
A stye or chalazion is another relatively frequent eye infection. This is actually, inflammation of the eye's tear gland when the products of the gland cannot get excreted, remain inside the gland and precipitate inflammation.
It is essential to mention uveitis, inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, the one that comprises many blood vessels essential for nutrition of various components of the inner organs of the eye.
Trachoma is an eye infection caused by Chlamydia trachomatis and is contracted due to unsanitary conditions. The infection may be rather complex, triggering the scarring of certain portions of the eye (the conjunctiva for instance). What is more, trachoma is recurrent, meaning that a person will have to deal with repeated infections.
And finally, one of the most serious infections of the eye is endophthalmitis. This is an infection of various inner structures of the eye that develops after infectious agents spread from superficial layers, is associated with eye injuries or develops after some eye surgeries. The damage can be rather severe and requires aggressive treatment with antibiotics. However, in spite of aggressive treatment vision loss is inevitable in many cases of endophthalmitis.
Treatment Options and Prevention
Treatment is not unique for all eye infections and practically depends on the infectious agent, the culprit of the infection and the severity of the disease. While specific treatment may include antibiotics, antiviral agents, antifungal or antiparasitic drugs, some patients are additionally prescribed certain medications which reduce inflammation and this way preserve affected parts of the eye. For example, inflammation may be reduced with corticosteroids.
It is significant never to treat an eye infection without previous consultation with a health care provider or an ophthalmologist. They are experts capable of diagnosing the condition and they will certainly opt for the most convenient treatment option or even recommend aggressive treatment it is necessary.
Prevention of certain eye infections is quite easy. One should always abstain from touching his/her eyes if these are not washed properly. This particularly refers to people who use contact lenses. These visual aids must be handled as recommended and kept impeccably clean.
Furthermore, the chances to reduce an eye infection can be increased by using anti-infective sprays and cleansers in public areas.
If one is confirmed to suffer from an eye infection, he/she must have his/her own towel and never share it with other family members. Bedding is not supposed to be shared as well until the infection is completely eradicated. Other family members should abstain from touching their eyes and if they need to do it, they should wash their hands thoroughly with warm water and soap first.
All in all, even though eye infections can be contracted easily they can also be prevented with certain precautionary measures. Some of these infections are mild and easily dealt with while others in spite of aggressive treatment may progress and cause irreversible damage to the eye and precipitate partial or complete vision loss.