How to Spot the Most Common Eye Infections

How to Spot the Most Common Eye Infections

Are your eyes watering, itching, or turning red? Here’s how simple it is to spot the most common eye infections that exist today.

Most of us tend to take our eyes and eyesight for granted until something happens to them. This is a shame because our vision is one of our greatest gifts.

If your eyes are red or burning or have a weird discharge, and you are worried about losing your eyes, stop jumping to the worst-case scenario. It could be one of the many common eye infections.

Almost a million visits to the doctor happen every year in the United States due to common eye infections. This costs $175 million in direct health care expenditures, which is a burden to the health care system.

The most interesting thing? Most of these infections happen due to improper contact lens usage.

If you are currently using contact lenses, and you don’t remove them before going to sleep at night, stop doing that. Proper contact lens care will ensure better eye health for you.

Read on to see what the most common eye infections are, and how you can prevent and treat them.

Symptoms of an Eye Infection

Eye infections usually come with pretty noticeable symptoms, either in one eye or both. Some symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Itchy eyes (constantly wanting to rub them).
  • The feeling that something’s stuck in your eyes like dust or dirt.
  • Eyelid Redness (swollen, purple, or red).
  • Pain or discomfort.
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Small, painful lump under the eyelids or at the bottom of your eyelashes.
  • Discharge from one or both of your eyes.
  • The pink color in the “whites” of your eyes.
  • Blurry vision.

Not all these symptoms will be present all at once, but if two or more are present at once, you need to be alert to the fact that you might have a common eye infection.

If the pain is too severe and hard to bear, then, of course, visit a doctor to ensure it isn’t something more than one of those common eye infections. If it’s just an eye infection, the doctor will be able to prescribe you some antibiotic eye drops.

Remember, if you are a contact lens user, do not wear them while you have your infection. Let your eyes recuperate and then you can go back to wearing contacts.

Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye)

Contrary to popular belief, Conjunctivitis isn’t an infection of your entire eye, but a particular part of your eye called the Conjunctiva. This is the thin, moist area that covers the inside of your eyelids, and the outer white part of your eye).

When you get Conjunctivitis, the infection of the Conjunctiva is what gives your eyes that pink tint.

You can get Conjunctivitis due to a bacteria or viral infection, or when you have a common cold. It’s also possible to get it due to allergies, or due to an irritant.

In adults, it’s most likely to be caused by a virus, and in children, due to bacteria.

You’ve probably experienced Conjunctivitis at least once in your lifetime, if not in your own eyes, then in a friend’s or child’s eye.


The cornea is the clear surface that covers the outside of your iris (the colored part of your eye – blue, brown, or green). In Keratitis, it’s the cornea that gets infected.

This can be caused by a virus or bacteria or by parasites in the water. This will definitely make you rethink going for a swim in some slimy pond in cottage country.

Keratitis can also be caused by improper contact lens usage.

An estimated 45 million people in the United States wear contact lenses, and between 40-90% of contact lens wearers do not follow the care instructions for their contact lenses.

This leads to 1 in 500 contact lens wearers per year getting serious eye infections, which could even lead to blindness.

If you wear contact lenses, follow the care instructions and do not go to bed with your lenses on, no matter how tired you are.


Stye shows up as painful red bumps under your eyelid (they are palpable when you press gently on your eyelids) or at the base of your eyelashes.

These occur when the oil glands in your eyelashes or your eyelids get infected, like how we end up getting pimples on our skin.

The sebaceous glands get clogged up with dirt or bacteria and thus, a Stye pops up. It’s painful but easily fixed with the proper medication.

Reduce the urge to constantly be touching or fiddling with your eyes, while you are recuperating from a Stye.

Fungal Eye Infections

Another common eye infection that you can get from improper contact lens usage is fungal eye infections. Clean your contact lenses properly before you put them into your sensitive eyes.

These are rare to get, but still possible, especially if you have sustained an eye injury.


The middle layer of your eye is called Uvea, and this is what gets infected in this uncommon eye infection. This is usually caused by prevalent viruses like herpes. It can also be caused by autoimmune disorders, like lupus.

When your doctor is taking a look at your infected eye, they might examine it, or take a tissue or fluid sample, to see what’s exactly going on.

They will end up prescribing medication that you ingest, or a cream that you spread on your eyelid, or eyedrops that you place directly into your eye.

Do not wear contact lenses, until your eye infection clears up completely, which might take a week or two, depending on the infection.

Common Eye Infections Are Easy to Fix but Need Proper Attention

The main kinds of common eye infections are Conjunctivitis, Keratitis, Stye, Fungal eye infections, and Uveitis. Some symptoms to be aware of, are swelling or redness of the eyes, itchy or watery eyes, and a discharge.

Take care of your eye health by cleaning your contact lens carefully, keeping your eyes clean and free of debris, and going to a doctor right away if you suspect an eye infection.

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