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Contagious Eye Infections

Eye infections are no fun and can range in severity from mild to moderate. Below we'll talk about some of the more common eye infections and what you can do to treat and in some cases, prevent them.

Conjunctivitis
This is among the most common eye infections. This condition results in an infection of the conjunctiva or membrane covering the whites of our eyes. This condition, also known as "pink eye" typically results from bacterial or viral infection of the eye. The more common symptoms include red, inflamed and watery eyes. Some patients will report their eye is burning or they feel a scratching sensation within the eye. Others may notice a slight discharge coming from the eye.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis
Bacterial infections mostly come from staphylococci and streptococci organisms that can come from your own skin or upper respiratory tract. The indicating symptoms of bacterial infections are thick ropy mucous discharge accompanied with red, irritated and inflamed eyes. Luckily, bacterial eye infections are easily treated with antibiotic eye drops and in most cases will clear up with in a few short days.

Viral Conjunctivitis
Viral infections are commonly caused by an endovirus and often associated with an upper respiratory infection or common cold. Eyes are red and inflamed with watery, runny eyes. One of the most common viral infections is Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis, also known as EKC. It is highly contagious and can last up to 2 weeks or more. This viral conjunctivitis is caused by an adenovirus and does not have a specific treatment to cure the infection. The doctor may prescribe steroid eye drops and artificial tears to help decrease inflammation, but mostly the virus just needs to run its course.

Unfortunately both conditions are very contagious. To help prevent spread it is important you wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your infected eye. Sharing cosmetics or other facial products may contribute to spreading the infection.

Chlamydial and Gonococcal Eye Infections
Conjunctivitis may also result from chlamydial or gonococcal infections or STD's. Usually the inner eyelid becomes infected. This condition is more commonly noted in teens and young adults who are sexually active. When left untreated, this condition may affect newborn infants born to mothers infected with an STD.

The more common symptoms include chronic eye infection that includes discharge or pus. Signs may include a history of pelvic pain or vaginitis as well. Patients with gonococcal infections may feel like a foreign object is chronically present within their eye, and are more likely to experience burning and inflammation.

Eye Infections It is possible to transfer these conditions to the eye from hand contact. It is important to help prevent the spread of infection that frequent hand washing is adopted by patients and family members. Treatment usually involves use of antibiotics taken topically or orally. Concomitant treatment may be necessary to treat genital and eye infections.

Learn more about eye infections on our forums!

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