Eye Infection: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

While some eye infections have the possibility to damage your eyes if left untreated, other eye infections are fairly common, can be easily treated, and even easier to prevent. 

What are the most common eye infections?

Sties—a stye forms when there’s an abnormal buildup of bacteria in the glands of your eyelids, usually resulting in a pimple on the lining of your eyelid. Sties are typically painful, feel larger than they are, and cause your eyes to water. Popping a stye usually makes the problem worse. Instead, use a warm compress to alleviate the pain and pressure.

Conjunctivitis—or pink eye, as it’s most commonly referred to, is an infection of the lining of the eye by a bacteria or virus. Most commonly, pink eye makes your eyes swell, turn red, and excrete excessive pus and mucous. Not only is conjunctivitis painful and itchy, but it’s highly contagious. If you suspect you have pink eye, then do your best to avoid contact with others. If you have pink eye, a visit to your eye doctor may also be in order.

Blepharitis—exposure to common bacteria on manmade surfaces sometimes results in blepharitis. Inflammation of the eyes leads to redness, blurry vision, itchy eyes and eyelids, and the feeling that something is constantly in your eyes. Leaving make-up on your eyes overnight or rubbing your eyes with dirty hands puts you at risk for blepharitis.

What are treatments for eye infections?

The most common symptoms of eye infections are discharge, red eyes, pain, itchiness, swelling, watery eyes, blurry vision, dry eye, and light sensitivity. Here are a few at-home remedies to help treat your eye infection.

  • Washing your eyes and eyelids with a doctor-recommended cleanser or diluted mixture of a hypoallergenic baby shampoo and warm water helps remove excess oil, bacteria, and pollen
  • Placing a warm eye compress over the eyes helps reduce swelling and pain
  • Laying a wet washcloth on your eyes at night before bed helps sooth them

Tips for preventing eye infections

Preventing eye infections involves simple hygiene habits that reduce your chances of exposing your eyes to infectious bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Even if some health practices are common sense, they’re helpful reminders and important to teach your younger family members.

  • Wash your hands before touching your eyes
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes excessively
  • Do not share cosmetics with others
  • Replace cosmetics and applicators if you develop an eye infection
  • Avoid exposure to smoke (tobacco), chemical fumes, and other irritating substances
  • Clean off makeup before bed
  • Keep your contact lenses and case clean, per your eye doctor’s instructions
  • Avoid wearing contacts overnight
  • Replace your contact lens case every three months
  • Maintain a high standard of hygiene with bedding, towels, and clothing

Thankfully, most common eye infections resolve on their own without any necessary medical treatment. But if any of your symptoms persist longer than 7-10 days or they intensify suddenly, then visit your eye doctor as soon as possible. This could be a sign that a more severe infection is developing or persisting and needs to be diagnosed by your eye care professional.

Schedule an eye exam with your VSP network doctor and use your vision benefits. If you don’t have vision insurance, find out how VSP insurance can help you save on your next eye exam with a VSP Individual Vision Plan today.

Disclaimer: Information received through VSP Individual Vision Plans’ social media channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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