3 Common Types of Eye Infections

May 5, 2021 10:20 am Published by

If your eye is itchy, swollen and a bright shade of pink, you may have an eye infection. Eye infections occur when harmful bacteria, fungi or viruses enter one or both eyes. They can also occur from exposure to allergens, chemicals and pollution, or after having a foreign object such as an eyelash, cosmetics or sawdust lodged in the eye.

Many eye infections heal on their own, but a proper diagnosis and treatment may help prevent potential vision damage. Learn more about the care needed for the different eye infections.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink eye, causes uncomfortable symptoms such as inflammation, irritation, discharge and burning. You may notice a pinkish tint to the white area of the affected eye. Children frequently contract pink eye.

Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis can be extremely contagious. Both types can be spread from person to person through close personal contact, respiratory droplets or by touching the eyes after coming in contact with an infected surface.

How to Treat Pink Eye

Apply cold compresses and use lubricating eye drops to relieve uncomfortable pink eye symptoms at home. See your healthcare provider if you have ongoing pain, severe redness in the eye, vision changes or worsening symptoms. Primary care providers (PCPs) are trained to recognize and treat multiple health issues, including eye infections.


Styes occur when the gland on the edge of the eyelid becomes infected by bacteria. As a result, the upper or lower part of the eyelid develops a painful, pus-filled inflammation that can be as large as a pea.

How to Treat a Stye:

Styes usually go away on their own within a week. You can speed up the process by applying warm compresses and topical ointment. A PCP may need to drain very large styes.

If you’re unsure if your stye will resolve on its own, a video visit with a PCP may help. A healthcare provider will use telemedicine to examine your eye from the comfort of your own home. Your provider will suggest options to help relieve uncomfortable symptoms, or, if the stye is severe, suggest coming into the medical office for further care.

Bacterial Keratitis

Bacterial keratitis is an infection in the cornea, the clear dome that covers the colored area of your eye. This condition is most often caused by two types of bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Bacterial keratitis may cause sudden eye pain, redness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and discharge. Contact lens wearers are at increased risk for the infection. You may also be more at risk for developing a corneal infection if you had a recent eye injury, were diagnosed with eye disease or have a weakened immune system.

How to Treat Bacterial Keratitis

If you think you may have a bacterial infection of your cornea, see your PCP right away—untreated bacterial keratitis may cause blindness. Your PCP will likely prescribe antibiotic eye drops or steroid drops.

If you experience symptoms that you believe may be an eye infection, contact a PCP for diagnosis and care.


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This post was written by Magnolia Regional Health Center

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