Common Causes of Eye Infections

By Gordon Wong, OD on December 28, 2017

Man holding his glasses and rubbing his eyesAn eye infection can be caused by various viruses, bacteria, or fungi, leading to numerous problematic symptoms, including eye pain, redness, and discharge. At Gordon Wong Eye Designs & Optometry in La Jolla, CA, our doctors offer a wide range of vision care services, including the treatment of eye infections.

Here, we take a look at some of the most common causes of eye infections, and how you can alleviate the symptoms and treat the condition. There are several types of infections. For the purpose of this blog post, we will explore some of the most common.

About Eye Infections

The microorganisms that lead to eye infections can attach to the outer membrane of the eye or the internal tissues. These diseases are named and categorized according to the location of the infection.

For example, conjunctivitis, the most common type of eye infection, is characterized by an inflamed conjunctiva. This occurs on the membrane that lines the eyelid.

Blepharitis refers to inflammation of the eyelid itself; keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea.

What Causes Conjunctivitis?

Infectious conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is by far the most common eye infection. Generally, this condition is caused by a type of bacteria or virus.

Pink eye can be spread to others quickly at schools, daycares, classrooms, and other public places. Fortunately, this eye infection can be treated with steroid eye drops. Bacterial conjunctivitis can respond well to antibiotic drops as well.

What Causes Ocular Herpes?

Ocular herpes is caused by direct contact with the type one herpes simplex virus. This condition is quite common and is recurrent. This eye infection can lead to corneal irritation and scarring, much like a cold sore that appears on the eye. Ocular herpes can be treated with antiviral eye drops, steroids, or in severe cases, surgery.

What Causes Bacterial Keratitis?

There are various types of bacteria found in the oral cavity, in the nose, and on the skin. These bacteria are quite common, and typically harmless.

However, when certain bacteria invade the eye, it can result in an infection. In many cases, this type of infection cannot penetrate the cornea. However, if you have a weak immune system or an eye injury, you can become much more susceptible to this type of bacteria.

Once the infection reaches the cornea, it is referred to as keratitis. Some patients who wear contact lenses develop bacterial keratitis due to a lack of oxygen to the eyes. Therefore, if you frequently wear contacts, it is important to follow all recommended guidelines regarding care and maintenance.

What Causes Ocular Histoplasmosis Syndrome?

Ocular histoplasmosis syndrome (OHS) is a byproduct of histoplasmosis, a fungal infection that affects the lungs. Histoplasmosis is extremely common in the river valleys of the southeastern United States, and is caused by the inhalation of spores.

Although more than 90 percent of adults in the affected regions have had the condition at some point, it is rare that it affects eye health.

However, in some cases, this infection reaches the retina. If this occurs, it can lead to symptoms similar to macular degeneration. This condition can lead to significant vision loss, although it can often be treated with anti-fungal eye drop therapy.

Find Out More

If you are experiencing the signs of an eye infection, or if you simply wish to schedule an appointment, reach out to a team member. You can call our office at (858) 454-4699 or contact us online anytime.

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