Eye Infection

An eye infection may be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Although a lot less common, eye infections may also be caused as a result of fungal infection. There are various kinds of eye infections and the treatment for each differs. One of the most common eye infections is conjunctivitis caused by bacteria. Blepharitis which is an inflammation of the eyelid caused by the bacteria staphylococcal and styes which occur when the oil glands in the eyelid region get infected are also eye infections that are very common throughout the world. The eye is constantly exposed to many pathogens and an infection occurs when its natural defenses do not function properly. Infections can arise due to local or remote factors. Different causes may be responsible for eye infections such as immune deficiencies, trauma, surgery or poor hygiene.

Eye Infection Picture

Eye infections are extremely common and can affect individuals of any age group, gender, race or ethnicity. In most cases eye infections are not terribly serious, but the severity of the condition can vary greatly, and in severe cases may be even put your vision at risk. For this reason its best not to delay seeking an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment. For most common eye infections, particularly in mild cases, home treatment with over the counter drugs or eye drops and home remedies should suffice to restore normalcy. If the condition does not respond or worsens however, you need to seek prompt medical treatment.

Symptoms of Eye Infection

There are various symptoms of an eye infection. You may experience just one of these symptoms or could experience a few of them together. The symptoms may vary in intensity from mild to severe depending on the extent and type of infection. Some of the most common symptoms of an eye infection include:

  • Burning in the affected eye
  • Irritation, which may include the sensation of a foreign object being lodged in the eye
  • Pain
  • Discharge. Bacterial eye infection symptoms may include a thick yellowish-green discharge
  • Watering of the eyes and crusting along the eyelids
  • Dryness of a sensation of grittiness in the eye
  • Itching
  • Redness and inflammation of the eyes
  • Soreness
  • Swelling of the eyelids and surrounding area of the eye
  • Viral eye infections such as viral conjunctivitis are often associated with infections of the upper respiratory system or a sore throat
  • In some cases, most of them quite rare, eye infections can turn out to be quite serious. This requires immediate medical attention. Some of the symptoms that may indicate serious or life threatening conditions include:

  • High fever
  • Bulging of the eyes
  • Severe light sensitivity
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Loss of vision
  • Severe eye pain
  • Swelling of the face

Causes of Eye Infection

Eye infections usually occur due to the following factors:

  • Most cases of eye infection are caused by bacteria that are normally present on the skin surface. The bacteria can then enter the eyes when there is some irritation or injury in the area. Eye infections can also occur due to bacteria that do not normally live on the skin and also due to viruses. These infections can spread when there is direct contact with an individual who is already affected with the condition.
  • Touching objects that may be contaminated and then rubbing or touching the eyes can also transmit the disease. Sharing of personal items such as pillows, handkerchiefs, towels and cosmetics is another way in which an eye infection can be spread.
  • Infection can occur when a foreign body enters the eye and scratches the cornea. These scratches are known to heal soon, but in some cases antibiotic treatment may be required.
  • Chemicals which enter the eye can also lead to infections. Therefore proper care needs to be taken when handling chemicals.
  • Trauma to the eye, or eye surgery can increase the risk of developing eye infections.
  • Styes occur when the oil glands of the eyelids get clogged.
  • Periorbital cellulitis is a bacterial infection which results in infection and swelling of the tissues around the eyes. This is a serious condition and requires immediate treatment.
  • There are certain risk factors that can make you prone to an eye infection. These include:

  • Allergies
  • Wearing contact lens for long periods of time
  • Improper cleaning or storage of contact lenses
  • Exposure to people with eye infections
  • Common cold

Remedies for Eye Infection

Treatment for an eye infection is administered after an accurate diagnosis is made. In case of conjunctivitis, doctors usually prescribe an ointment or topical solution that helps to combat the infection. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and hence the individual must avoid contact with others. Blepharitis and styes are also treated in a similar way. Following the guidelines regarding treatment and care will help greatly in reducing the severity of the infection.

There are many home remedies for eye infections and many prefer them over conventional treatment because they are gentler and easy to use. However it is a good idea to discuss the use of such remedies with your doctor. While home remedies may be a great way to treat allergic reactions and some mild infections, bacterial infections require antibiotic treatment. Here are some of the most popular natural remedies for eye infections.

  • Eye infections such as a stye can be relieved by placing a warm compress over the affected eye. This helps to bring down the swelling and redness.
  • You can also place a warm, moist tea bag over the eye. This can reduces the size of the stye due to the tanic acid present in tea.
  • Individuals who suffer from recurrent stye infections can use a compress made with warm guava leaves.
  • Natural eye washes are great for relieving irritation in the infected eye. An effective eye wash can be made by adding one teaspoon of coriander seeds to a cup of boiling water. Once it cools down, use to rinse the eyes. Such eye washes also make great home remedies for dry eyes.
  • Dry and irritated eyes due to allergies may also be treated using a saline solution. You can either purchase a saline solution over the counter or make one by adding a teaspoon of table salt to a quart of distilled water. Add drops of the solution into the eyes.
  • Many perfumes, soaps and other products contain chemicals which can lead to irritation or infection of the eyes. It is best to avoid using such products.
  • Keep in mind that the effectiveness of these remedies may vary greatly from individual to individual, depending on the specific condition and also on the remedy itself. Many of these home treatments have not been adequately researched and their effects are not always clear.

Diet for Eye Infection

Your diet has no direct bearing on an eye infection, but there are certain nutrients which are especially important for good eye health. Research indicates that vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamins B6, B9 and B12 help to keep the eyes healthy and functioning well. Omega-3 fatty acids and minerals such as zinc are also important. Antioxidants such as lutein help to prevent the accumulation of waste matter in the retina and this lowers the risk of eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Given below is a list of foods that are known to be beneficial for eye health.

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables which are good sources of vitamins C and E
  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach which contain vitamin E and lutein
  • Yellow and orange vegetables and fruits which are high in beta carotene
  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel and sardines which are valuable sources of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Eggs, whole grains, milk and meat which contain zinc
  • Liver, potatoes, bananas and dried beans which supply vitamin B6
  • Mushrooms, peas, citrus fruits and nuts which contain folic acid
  • Shellfish, poultry and dairy foods which provide vitamin B12

A diet that contains too many refined carbohydrates such as white breads, pasta and rice can increase the risk of eye conditions. Therefore, these must be replaced with complex carbohydrates such as whole grains. Those who suffer from recurrent eye infections should also consult a doctor regarding the intake of vitamin and mineral supplements.

Suggestion for Eye Infection

In order to prevent the spread or worsening of an eye infection, there are certain measures to be followed.

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Use eye goggles to protect the eyes while swimming
  • Avoid touching or squeezing a stye. Allow it to drain by itself.
  • When using compresses to treat infections, ensure that you dispose of them immediately so that others do not come in contact with the contaminated objects.
  • Avoid wearing makeup on the eyes when there is an infection. Also dispose of any old eye makeup and brushes and use new ones after the infection clears. Refrain from sharing such items with others.

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