Why You Should Always Seek Medical Care If You Are Suffering from an Eye Infection

It’s easy to dismiss itchy, red eyes as nothing more than being overtired or having a mild seasonal allergy. But when red, itchy eyes persist, or when they’re accompanied by other symptoms, there’s a good chance you could have an eye infection. And if you do, you need to schedule an office visit as quickly as possible. That’s because eye infections are caused by harmful organisms like bacteria, viruses, or fungi — sometimes, they can even be caused by tiny parasites. No matter what's causing your infection, without prompt treatment, you could wind up with a much more serious problem — one that might damage your vision.

Symptoms of eye infections

Most eye infections make the white part of your eye turn pink or reddish. But while that might be the most common symptom, it’s not the only one. Other common eye infection symptoms include:

Infections can occur in any part of your eye, including the inner eyelid, the surface layer of your eye, and even inside your eye.

If you have an eye infection, you may not have all these symptoms. Different types of infections can cause different symptoms. For instance, conjunctivitis, one of the most common eye infections, typically causes a lot of itchiness in your eye. It also causes your eye to turn pink, which is why conjunctivitis is often referred to by its more familiar name, pinkeye. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious; it spreads very easily from one person to another, and children are especially prone to it. Conjunctivitis can be caused by different types of germs that infect the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the eye.

Other infections include:

A lot of eye infections develop when we touch an infected surface and then rub our eyes. The germs on our fingers enter our eyes and multiply, causing an infection. If your corneas are damaged by dryness or irritation from contact lenses or if you have a tiny tear or scratch on your cornea, you’re also much more prone to developing an eye infection.

Why your eye infection needs medical treatment

Of course, getting medical treatment for an eye infection is important because it can relieve the painful or annoying symptoms the infection is causing. And if your infection is contagious, getting medical treatment means you won't wind up spreading it to other people. But there’s another reason to have an eye infection treated as promptly as possible: Most eye infections aren’t going to go away on their own. Once germs get inside your eye, they’re going to go on multiplying and thriving until something changes. That usually means a course of medication to get rid of the germs and restore your eye to its normal health. When you don’t get prompt treatment, the germs can spread from one part of your eye to another. And depending on the type of germ that’s in your eye — and how long the infection has been going on — you could wind up losing part or even all your vision. 

Even though an eye infection can have really serious consequences, treatment for most eye infections is pretty straightforward. Most eye infections can be treated with medicated eye drops. In a few cases, you might need to take oral medication as well. In addition to medicine, using warm compresses and wearing sunglasses while your eyes are light-sensitive can help reduce symptoms while your eye heals. If you wear contacts, you'll also need to switch to glasses until the infection has completely cleared up.

If you have any unusual symptoms affecting your eyes or your vision, having your eyes examined by Dr. Alisha Poonawala is the first step toward relieving your symptoms and protecting your vision. To schedule an exam, contact the practice today.

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