The eye contains many structures essential for good vision, and is one of the most complex organs in the body.
Since it is responsible for a very important sense (sight), any imbalance that affects it can quickly bother the sufferer. However, it should be remembered that many eye infections are common and benign, but it is still important to understand them to avoid complications and recognize their indicators.
In this text you can read more about the subject of the most common eye infections:
- Styes and chalazions
Conjunctivitis is such a common eye infection that almost everyone will have it at least once in their lifetime.
More specifically, conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin membrane covering the white of the eye. It protects the eye from daily aggressors found in the air, like pollution, dust, etc.
There are two types of conjunctivitis:
Airborne allergens, such as mold, pollen, and animal hair, can come in contact with the conjunctiva and cause an allergic reaction. In this case, it affects both eyes at the same time and includes symptoms, such as redness, itching (or a sensation of having sand in the eyes), and watery secretions that are rarely coloured and of more dense consistency.
While viruses and bacteria can both be involved, a virus is the most common cause of this type of conjunctivitis. Usually the infection starts in only one eye, but is easily transmitted to the other eye - especially when infectious microorganisms from one eye come into contact with the other.
Viral conjunctivitis symptoms are similar to allergic conjunctivitis, but last longer (2-3 days). For its part, conjunctivitis of a bacterial nature brings more bothersome symptoms, such as thick yellowish or greenish secretions; those who suffer from it often get up in the morning with their eyelid(s) stuck together, as a crust of mucus has formed.
Styes and chalazions
These two common eye infections are sometimes confused. In fact, the stye and the chalazion have very similar symptoms, as well as similar treatment methods.
They target the glands located in the lower or upper eyelids. The main difference is that a stye is an infection of one or more of these glands and a chalazion is an occlusion of the meibomian gland (non-infectious).
Chalazions cause swelling in the eyelid, sometimes enough to close the eye completely. The swelling goes away within 24 to 48 hours. Afterwards, a small, painless nodule forms there and eventually disappears after 2 weeks to 2 months.
In the case of a stye, the same symptoms are accompanied by pain. The swollen area at the base of an eyelash is raised and includes a small yellowish area. About 72 hours later, this lesion ruptures, and pus often drains out. Blurry vision, redness, tears, and local pain are the most common symptoms listed for stye. For more information about this, don’t hesitate to consult this article.
Dacryocystitis is a harmless eye infection, and complications are quite rare.
This eye infection is defined as an obstruction of the nasolacrimal duct. This small passage is responsible for draining tear fluid to the nose.
Dacryocystitis has symptoms, such as:
- Red swelling in the inner corner of the eye
- Constant tearing
- Sometimes pus accumulates in the swollen area
The symptoms dissipate on their own within a few days. If a serious infection appears in the tear duct, treatments may be prescribed to prevent complications.
Often times, a person afflicted with this eye infection tends to think it is a stye. However, another part of the gland is affected here. This is because blepharitis is the inflammation of the edge of the eyelid, near the eyelashes (the eyelid edge).
The inflammation can affect both the outer eyelid, the inner eyelid and the eye. Here are all the symptoms specific to blepharitis:
- Redness of the eyelid, more intense on the edge of the eyelid
- A sensation of having an eyelash or a grain of sand in the eye
- Localized pain
- Secretions that dry on the edge of the eyelashes, leaving a crusty appearance
- Blurred vision (rarer)
Keratitis is the infection of the outer membrane that covers the eye: the cornea. Usually the infection is due to a foreign body in the eye or because of contact lenses. Keratitis is an eye infection that can be caused by a bacteria or fungi. Common clinical signs include:
- Cloudy or blurry vision, with a sensation that water has collected in the eye
- Shedding tears
- Redness and pain
- Sensitivity to light.
People who wear contact lenses should pay particular attention to the amount of hygiene in their visual aid insertion and removal routine. This will help prevent keratitis.
When should you consult a doctor or an optometrist?
When symptoms intensify and last longer than a reasonable duration, it's time to see a doctor. The eye is a complex organ and also a very valuable part of the body.
Taking care of your eyes and consulting a healthcare professional in case of doubt is always a good measure.