Eye infections, and what causes them

Common eye infections are highly contagious. We list the ways to identify them and how to avoid spreading them to others.

The eyes are the window to one’s soul, and also the gateway to the world. You are severely handicapped when your vision is compromised even for a couple of minutes. And yet, most of us ignore the common eye infections that could potentially result in loss of vision!

The most common eye infections

* Conjunctivitis:It is a common eye infection affecting a lot of people around the world. It is also known as ‘sore eyes’ or ‘pinkeye’. It has bacterial and viral origins, and it causes redness, soreness, watering and pain during blinking. It is most common among children, and it spreads rapidly in a confined, classroom environment. Adults are also at risk when they are exposed to others with this eye infection, or when they inadvertently touch the fluid seeping from the eyes of an infected person and touch their own eyes with it. Washing the hands with antibacterial soap is important.

* Stye.This is also one of the most common eye infections. It is seen as a red inflammation on the upper or lower eyelid, which is painful to the touch and which may even cause discomfort while blinking. It is caused due to a clogging or irritation in the glands inside the eyelid. The inflammation can also occur if you have had less sleep. The inflammation has fluid and a tiny amount of pus inside it. It usually subsides in a couple of days. Keep the eye relaxed and use doctor-prescribed eye drops.

* Viral keratitis. It is most commonly known as ‘ocular herpes’, and it is caused due to exposure to the Herpes Simplex virus.

* Trachoma. This is an eye infection that is caused by the Chlamydia Trachomatis virus spread by flies. The flies carry the virus from unhygienic environments and deposit them on household surfaces and food items. The infection affects the inner eyelid with a boil-like formation, which then subsides and results in a scar. The eyelid then begins to turn inwards, with the eyelashes brushing against the eyeball and harming the corneal tissues. In some cases, trachoma can also cause blindness.

* Acanthamoeba keratitis. This eye infection is common among those who wear contact lenses. Microscopic parasites invade the eye tissues and cause inflammation owing to the presence of the contact lens. The infection is most commonly spread via community swimming pools. The best way to prevent it is to avoid wearing lenses while swimming, and to strap on swim goggles when going underwater.

* Endophthalmitis. This eye infection is caused by bacteria that penetrates the internal tissues and may even cause blindness. It is often caused by injury to the eye, or after one undergoes cataract eye surgery. It may also be caused by mould entering the site of eye injury.

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