What Causes Eye Infections?
As many as one in every five contact lens-related eye infections have been linked to severe eye damage, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Eye infections are caused by harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses that enter and invade the area around or part of the eyeball, including the cornea and conjunctiva.
There are a variety of eye infections, so if you suspect you have an infection you should always schedule an appointment with your eye doctor for an evaluation prior to beginning any treatment. Common causes include:
- Bacterial keratitis
- Chlamydia and gonorrhea
- Herpes simplex
- Improper contact lens care
- Ocular histoplasmosis syndrome (OHS)
Symptoms of an Eye Infection
Your treatment will target the type of harmful microorganism that is causing your infection, which may be bacterial, fungal or viral. Depending on the cause and type of your infection, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Crusting of the eyelid
- Feeling of sand in the eye
- Involuntary blinking
- Itching or pain
- Swollen eyelids
Complications Associated with Eye Infections
When caught early enough, most eye infections can be treated to reduce the risk of harm to your eyes; however, when infection affects the interior portions of the eye or eyelids, there can be complications that may lead to serious eye damage. Complications include:
- Chalazion, bump inside the upper or lower eyelid
- Corneal ulcer, painful and red eye with reduced vision
- Dacryocystitis, inflammation of the tear sac
- Dacryostenosis, blocked tear duct
- Endophthalmitis, inflammation of the interior of the eye
- Orbital Cellulitis, infection of the tissues surrounding the eye
- Stye, tender and red bumps near the edge of the eyelid
- Uveitis, inflammation of the uvea
Eye Infection Treatment
To keep your eyes protected while using contact lenses, there are a number of things you can do. The following is a list of eight of the most effective ways you can avoid contact lens-related eye infections:
- Always thoroughly wash and rinse your hands with warm or hot water and a non-cosmetic soap before touching your contacts.
- Clean your contact lens case with hot tap water. Do this after each use and once done let it air dry. Replace your case every three months, or immediately in the event of an eye infection.
- Clean your contact by using your index finger to gently rub it in the palm of your other hand with contact solution. Never use tap water for cleaning, or you risk infection with the microorganisms that naturally exist in water. Saline solutions or rewetting drops are not appropriate alternatives to the cleaning solution recommended by your eye doctor.
- Understand that some products are not safe for your contacts, so only use the cleaners, disinfecting solution, and drops that your eye doctor recommends.
- Take care not to contaminate your solution bottles or rewetting drops. Do not let the tips touch your contact lenses, eyes, or fingers.
- Never wear anyone else’s contact lenses, even if they are a close friend or family member. The lenses may carry and spread particles or infection.
- Only wear your contacts as long as your eye doctor has recommended.
- Do not sleep with your contact lenses in. When your eyes are closed your tears aren’t carrying enough oxygen to your eyes, which can cause complications. Even with extended wear contact lenses, your eyes need a break while you sleep.
How to Get Help for an Eye Infection
If you notice any signs of irritation or infection, immediately remove and discontinue use of your contact lenses. Call Vishal Patel, OD at Eye Care Solutions right away to schedule an appointment to get the care and treatment you need to keep your eyes safe and healthy.