Infections and injuries are two of the most common type of problems to affect our eyes. Whilst there are some instances in which both of these problems can potentially resolve themselves without professional intervention, there are just as many which require medication and treatment to ensure that they don’t have a long-term impact on your eye health or vision.
Here’s what you need to know about eye infections and injuries and how they can be treated.
Eye infections are quite common, largely due to their sensitive nature. They occur when harmful microorganisms including viruses, bacteria and fungi invade any part of the eyeball or the surrounding tissues. They can also be caused by allergens triggering an autoimmune response that leads to conjunctivitis – one of the most common types of eye infection.
Symptoms of eye infections can vary, but most commonly include some or all of the following:
Reddish or pink tint around the eyes
Watery discharge from the eyes
Itchiness and irritation
Feeling that there is something lodged in your eyes
Producing more tears than usual
Sensitivity to light
Burning pain in your eyes
A lump under your eyelid or at the base of your eyelashes
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above it is likely that you have an eye infection and you should arrange to get seen by your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Precisely which treatment you will be recommended to treat your eye infection will primarily depend on the type of infection you are suffering from.
Patients who are diagnosed with a bacterial eye infection, such as bacterial conjunctivitis, will usually be prescribed antibiotic medication. This may be in the form of antibiotic eye drops, ointments, or in some cases, oral medications.
If your eye infection is a result of an allergy, you will almost certainly be prescribed antihistamines which help to counteract the allergic response. These are usually administered in the form of eye drops and should be taken exactly as directed. In some cases, patients are also advised to take oral antihistamines as a preventative. Regular cleaning of the eyes will help to remove allergens and reduce irritation and other symptoms associated with the allergy too.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for a viral infection. Instead you will need to simply care for your eyes by cleaning them at least twice each day with clean, warm wet clothes until the infection clears up.
Eye injuries can happen at any time. However, they are particularly likely during certain activities, such as sports involving speed and flying/fast-moving objects like balls, lacrosse sticks and more. They are also more likely in specific job roles, such as those involving construction and chemicals. Some types of eye injury have the potential to have serious consequences and should be treated as an emergency, with you visiting your eye doctor right away if you are affected.
The following represent three of the most common types of eye injury and their treatments.
Better known as a scratched eye, this occurs when there is abrasive damage to the clear front surface of the eye. This type of injury can occur when you get a foreign body in the eye and you rub it, or from being poked in the eye. Unsurprisingly, they can make the eye very sore, red, and can even interfere with your vision. Scratches also increase your risk of an eye infection. If you think you have a corneal abrasion, you should keep your eye closed/covered and see your eye doctor immediately.
Chemical burns are also very common and can occur directly, or by the transfer of a chemical from the fingers/hands to the eyes. These must always be treated as an emergency. Run your eye under a steady stream of cold, freshwater for at least 15 minutes. If you have someone with you, get them to call your eye doctor during this time to let them know that you are coming in. They will be able to advise you what additional care may be needed to protect the long-term health of your eyes and your vision.
It isn’t unusual for small particles to enter our eye and usually these can be washed out using water or saline solution. However, if you are unable to flush out the foreign body in your eye, or if you have a larger object penetrating your eye, you will need to visit your eye doctor immediately. Don’t be tempted to try and remove it yourself. Cover your eye with a cup or eye shield and get to your emergency eye doctor immediately.
If you would like more advice about eye infections and injuries and how they can be treated, please don’t hesitate to speak to our expert eye care team in Seattle, WA today.