Last Updated on May 16, 2023 by amy
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” – Matthew 6:22.
Whether or not you are religious, the message is clear. If you care for your eyes, you are taking care of your body. There is the saying that “the eyes are the window to the soul,” and while it is unknown to who that quote is attributed, it’s hard to argue with the fact that our eyes are one of the most precious parts of our bodies. It is important to be aware of how to stay healthy and prevent yourself from any eye infections that can get in the way of maintaining a clean bill of health. There are over a dozen signs and symptoms of an eye infection, and eight of the most common and serious ones are listed here. If you believe that you exhibit any of these, it is important to consult with your doctor and seek treatment. You wouldn’t want an eye infection to damage the windows of your soul!
Eye pain is one of the most common signs that you are experiencing an eye infection. It could be internal or external, cause redness or inflammation, and be acute or chronic. Several different types of symptoms coincide with eye pain, and most of them indicate some eye infection. The key is not to let these symptoms go unnoticed. If your eye is hurting, ask yourself, “Why?” Did you injure yourself somehow? Do you remember getting something in your eye? Was there something in the air that seemed to irritate you and maybe make you sneeze as well? Or is there something more serious going on? You could have other signs of an eye infection and not even realize it. Keep reading to learn more about some of the accompanying symptoms of eye pain.
Foreign body sensation
Does it feel like something is stuck in your eye? Is it driving you crazy, making you blink constantly to try and get it out? That could mean you have some eye infection. Examples of eye infections that cause this foreign body sensation include conjunctivitis, dry eyes, and blepharitis.
Blepharitis is an eye infection that causes inflammation of the eyelids. In this case, the tiny oil glands near the eyelashes on your eye become irritated, causing your eyelids to look greasy and crusted. It is a chronic condition that can be treated but not cured. There are two specific types of blepharitis: anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis. Anterior blepharitis affects the outer part of the eyelid and can lead to inward-turned or outward-turned eyelids. The damage to the eyelid creates a foreign body sensation in the eye. Posterior blepharitis can result in styes or chalazion forming. It can also create foamy-looking tears, crusty eyelids, and thickened eyelid margins. Those affected with blepharitis can suffer from both types of eye infections simultaneously.
Increased sensitivity to light
Light sensitivity, also known as photophobia, sometimes means a migraine, but it can also signal an eye infection that causes an intolerance of light. Photophobia has several causes, including uveitis, corneal abrasions, detached retinas, and even meningitis.
Uveitis is an eye infection caused by inflammation of the uvea, which is the eye’s middle layer. This part of the eye consists of the choroid, the ciliary body, and the iris. Eye injuries, chemical exposure, and more can cause uveitis. There are four specific types of uveitis, which are anterior uveitis (inflammation of the iris), intermediate uveitis (inflammation of the ciliary body), posterior uveitis (inflammation of the choroid), and diffuse uveitis (inflammation of all uvea areas). This eye infection can lead to long-term conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and even vision loss.
Blurry vision makes things look hazy and out of focus and can even mean that you might have an eye infection. You could have a fungal keratitis eye infection if you experience clouding of the eye’s surface, blurring, and vision loss. If that is the case, it is important to seek medical help sooner rather than later to prevent the condition’s long-term effects, including permanent eye damage.
Soft contact lenses are one of the most common causes of fungal keratitis eye infections. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), when there was a major infection outbreak ten years ago, 94% of the people were wearing soft contact lenses, and 34% of those affected needed a corneal transplant. The most important ways to prevent this if you wear contact lenses are to wash your hands before touching your contacts, rinse them with proper solution and air them out, and replace your storage when it is time.
Discharge from the eye
Eye discharge can have a few appearances, ranging from watery tears to blood to crust or goo. These are all signs of an eye infection; while they sound gross, they can be treated properly.
Watery eyes indicate several types of eye infections, including conjunctivitis and dacryocystitis. Dacryocystitis is an infection of the tear (lacrimal) sac and is caused by blockage of the nasolacrimal duct in the eye. It is a condition that can be either acute or chronic. When it is acute, the area around the eye can become red, watery, and ooze pus. This kind of eye infection needs to be treated by a doctor.
Gooey or stringy discharge can indicate an eye infection known as a corneal ulcer. This condition results from a cornea infection and presents as a red eye with significant discharge and decreased vision. It is often caused by contact lenses irritating the epithelium of the eye, allowing bacteria in. Fungi and parasites can also cause this eye infection.
Redness of the eye or eyelids
Red eyes are fairly common. We might experience them from being overtired or having mild allergies. However, red eyes can also be an indication of an eye infection. Several eye infections can cause red eyes, including conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers, ocular herpes, uveitis, and glaucoma. Conjunctivitis is another name for pink eye, a contagious eye infection where blood vessels become irritated and swell, causing a reddish-pink appearance in the eye. The blood vessels swell from infected conjunctiva, the thin membrane that lines the eyelids. Conjunctivitis is especially common among school-aged children and should be treated by a doctor with antibiotics.
Aside from seeking treatment from a medical professional, the best home remedies for treating red eyes are using eye drops and resting your eyes with cool compresses to reduce irritation.
Gray or white sore on the iris
A gray or white spot on your cornea should not be ignored, as it could indicate an eye infection. It is a warning sign of a serious condition known as a corneal ulcer. A corneal ulcer is an open sore of the cornea and can be caused by any type of eye infection, whether bacterial, fungal, or viral. The cornea is the clear structure that protects the iris; when there is an ulcer, major bacteria can enter the eye.
Bacterial infections from improper contact lens use mainly cause corneal ulcers. Those who use contacts should be vigilant when using them not to damage their corneas. The herpes simplex virus and varicella virus can also cause corneal ulcers, so when you experience minor conditions such as cold sores or are exposed to chickenpox or shingles, you should also be mindful that you could be exposing your eyes to a viral infection. Fungal infections also lead to corneal ulcers, so improper use of contact lenses and overusing eye drops with steroids can also create eye infections. Follow your doctor’s orders and handle your contacts hygienically!
Swollen eyelids, like redness of the eye, can often be mistaken for exhaustion or allergies. However, there is a chance that if your eyes are swollen, you could have an eye infection and not even know about it. Swelling can affect both upper and lower eyelids and may or may not be painful. When there is inflammation or edema in the tissues near the eye, swelling occurs and can mean an eye infection.
Swelling can be caused by pink eye, blepharitis, styes, Graves’ disease, and orbital cellulitis, among other conditions. Orbital cellulitis is a sudden and dangerous infection of the tissues around the eye. A sinus infection mainly causes it and is more common in young children. The eye infection affects the eyelids, eyebrows, and cheeks, making the eyes appear “bulging.” Without treatment, orbital cellulitis can lead to both vision and hearing loss. It’s important to catch the infection early.