An eye infection is an ailment caused by bacterial, viral or fungal agents. An infection is not only a threat to your vision, but they eyes can act as an entrance of an infection into the rest of the body. There are a variety of eye infections that we are vulnerable to and which come with different causes and treatments. An eye infection can affect one or both eyes, and will occur in people of all ages. Symptoms might include irritation, redness, discharge and reduced vision. Treatment will be dependent on the type and cause of the infection.

Typically the eye is well protected by a tear film and the flow of tears which helps to neutralise or wash away pathogens. However, despite this complex layering of protection, the eye barrier can be breached by trauma, improper tearing, or contact lens wear.

An eye infection can affect any part of the eye or surrounding areas. Areas that could become infected include the cornea, the membrane lining the outer eye or inner eyelids and even the retina. The more serious eye infections will penetrate the deeper, interior portions of the eye to create vision-threatening conditions such as endophthalmitis—an inflammation of the internal eye, which is a very serious condition that will require immediate treatment.

Eye infections are so common that many of us won’t even know that we or someone else has one. People who wear contact lenses are more susceptible due to the decrease in oxygen supply to the cornea or bacterial build up caused by not properly disinfecting their lenses. Common eye infections include pink eye, blepharitis, and trachoma. Trachoma, which can lead to blindness, is easily spread and more common in poor countries.

Eye infection treatment typically includes compresses, eye drops, creams, or antibiotic treatments. A topical antiviral therapy may be recommended if the infection is caused by a virus. One of the most common eye infections is conjunctivitis—or pink eye. Certain types of these infections are quite contagious and will require immediate treatment from an eye doctor. Treatment usually involves taking time away from work or school so as not to infect others, a prescribe topical solution or ointment and a warm or cool compress to relieve symptoms.

With any possible eye infection you should seek immediate diagnosis and treatment from your eye doctor. Self-diagnosing your condition or ignoring it in hopes that it will go away could be detrimental to your health and ensuring that you receive an effective treatment before harming eye sight for good.

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