If you have pain and swelling in your eye, you may have an eye infection. Most eye infections are treated with a combination of medications and home remedies, although treatment varies depending on the cause: bacterial, viral, or fungal.
Medications for eye infections may include the following:
- Bacterial: Treatment typically involves ointments, eye drops, and oral medications. For infections caused by allergies, over-the-counter antihistamines (such as diphenhydramine or loratadine) may be administered.
- Viral: Generic medications are not used to treat viral eye infections, and the condition typically gradually resolves on its own in 7-0 days. Symptom relief in the form of lubricant eye drops may be administered along with oral antihistamines for itchiness.
- Fungal: Antifungal eye drops are generally used to treat fungal eye infections.
- Warm or cold compress: Applying warm compresses to the affected eye can help alleviate soreness and itchiness. Cold compresses can help ease discomfort as well.
- Green tea: Apply refrigerated green tea bags and apply them to the eyes for 10-15 minute to soothe swelling and inflammation.
- Saline drops: Saline or salt water mimics the effect of teardrops and can help clean the eye and relieve symptoms.
If you notice symptoms of an eye infection, consult an ophthalmologist for proper care. Improper treatment of an eye condition can lead to eye damage or loss of vision in extreme cases.
What are symptoms of an eye infection?
Common symptoms of eye infections include:
8 common causes of eye infections
Also called pink eye, conjunctivitis is one of the most common viral eye infections. The infection occurs when the blood vessels in the conjunctiva become infected, causing the eyes to become inflamed and turn pink or red.
Treatment for pinkeye include cold compresses, topical antihistamines, artificial tears, antibiotic eye drops, and oral antibiotics.
Infections in the cornea, which is the clear layer that covers the pupils and iris, can lead to a condition called keratitis. It can result from fungal, viral, bacterial, or parasitic infections. Keratitis can develop from dirty contact lenses,weakened immune system, humid climate eye injury, or long-term use of corticosteroid eye drops.
Treatment of keratitis may include antibiotic, antiviral, or antifungal drugs in the form of eye drops or pills. Eye patches may be prescribed in some cases.
Endophthalmitis is inflammation of the insides of the eye caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. This condition usually develops after eye surgery such as cataract surgery or caused by injury such as with a sharp object.
Most cases of endophthalmitis require antibiotic or antifungal injections and possibly emergency surgery.
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids which can occur when the oil glands inside the eyelids get clogged. Factors that can lead to the condition include scalp or eyebrow dandruff, allergic reaction to makeup, lice or mites in the eyelashes, or weakened immune system.
Symptoms can be treated with home care such as regular cleaning of the eyelids and eyelashes with water. Treating underlying conditions such as dandruff or rosacea can help keep blepharitis under control. Severe cases of blepharitis may require antibiotics or steroids.
Also called a hordeolum, a sty is a pimple-like bump that forms an oil gland on the outer edges of the eyelids. Due to the accumulation of dead skin, oils, and other debris, the glands become clogged, causing bacteria to overgrow.
Most stys will clear on their own. You can also use a warm compress for 15 minutes and gently massage the nodule 4-5 times a day.
Uvea is the central layer of the eyeball that helps carry blood to the retina. Uveitis occurs when an infection causes inflammation in the uvea and can be caused by autoimmune disorders, a weakened immune system, eye injuries, or viral infections. Uveitis usually does not lead to serious problems, but if not treated properly, it can lead to vision loss.
Treatment may include steroids in the form of pills, eye drops, or injections.
Cellulitis requires antibiotic treatment, sometimes in a hospital. More severe cases may require surgery to drain fluid from the infected area.
8. Ocular herpes
How to prevent an eye infection
After recovering from an eye infection, you can prevent it from recurring with the following measures:
Watson S, Cabrera-Aguas M, Khoo P. Common eye infections. Aust Prescr. 2018 Jun;41(3):67-72. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29922000/
Medline Plus. Eye Infections. https://medlineplus.gov/eyeinfections.html
Top How Do You Treat an Eye Infection Related Articles
Pink Eye PicturePink eye, or conjunctivitis, is redness and inflammation of the membranes (conjuctiva) covering the whites of the eyes and the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids. See a picture of Pink Eye and learn more about the health topic.
What Are the Best Treatments for Allergic Conjunctivitis?Learn what medical treatments can ease allergic conjunctivitis symptoms and help speed up your eye allergy recovery.
BlepharitisBlepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. Acne rosacea, staphylococcal bacteria, allergies, sensitivities to makeup or contact lens solutions, head lice, or other conditions may cause blepharitis. Symptoms and signs include itchy eyelids, burning sensation in the eyes, crusting of the eyelids, light sensitivity, red, swollen eyelids, loss of eyelashes, and dandruff of the lashes and eyebrows. Proper eyelid hygiene and a regular cleaning routine controls blepharitis.
Eye Cancer: Intraocular (Uveal) aMelanoma TreatmentMelanoma is a serious form of skin cancer that develops when the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) that give the skin its color, which are also present in the eyes, become cancerous. When melanoma develops in the cells of the eye, it is known as intraocular melanoma. Treatments for intraocular melanoma include surgery, watchful waiting, radiation therapy, photocoagulation, and thermotherapy.
Eye Symptom MeaningsWill your eye condition clear up, or is it a warning sign of a critical eye health issue? Learn about common eye symptoms, what they could mean, what you can do about them, and when to see your eye doctor.
Watery EyesAlways tearing up? Everyday things can make your eyes water, but so can some medical conditions.
How Do I Get Rid of a Stye Overnight?It is usually not possible to get rid of a stye completely overnight, but there are several ways that can fasten the healing.
How Do I Know if I Have Bacterial or Viral Conjunctivitis?The symptoms of bacterial vs. viral conjunctivitis may be similar. But a doctor can easily distinguish between the two.
KeratitisKeratitis is inflammation of the cornea. Symptoms and signs include pain, tearing, blurred vision, eye redness, watery eyes, or the cornea may appear gray or white. Treatment of keratitis depends upon the underlying cause of the inflammation.
Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)Pinkeye, also called conjunctivitis, is redness or irritation of the conjunctivae, the membranes on the inner part of the eyelids and the membranes covering the whites of the eyes. These membranes react to a wide range of bacteria, viruses, allergy-provoking agents, irritants, and toxic agents.
Pink Eye SlideshowHow do you get pink eye? And how contagious is pinkeye? If you woke up with crusty eyelids and red, swollen eyes, you may have conjunctivitis. Learn about eye drops and home remedies for pink eye.
Sty (Stye)A sty is a bump that forms on the eyelid as a result of a blocked gland. Styes may be caused by infections, burns, or trauma to the eyelid. Most styes resolve on their own. The application of warm compresses can speed healing. In some cases, steroid injection or incision and drainage may be necessary. Keeping the area clean and consuming a diet high in omega-3-fatty acids may help prevent the formation of styes.
What Are Some Common Eye Infections?An eye infection is a condition in which viruses, bacteria or other microbial agents may attack the eye. This can cause itching around the eyes or the eyes may turn pink. The infection can affect the eyelid, cornea or conjuctiva (inside lining of the eyelid).
What Does An Eye Infection Look Like?An eye infection may bring about the following changes in the eye: A pink tint in the whites of the eye, swollen red or purple eyelids, crusty lashes or lids, and/or discharge of fluids which may be yellow, green or clear.