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Exploring Eye Infection Causes and Ways to Prevent Them

Gina Walters


eye infection causes

Eye infections can arise when harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses infiltrate any part of the eyeball or surrounding tissues.

Sometimes, certain allergies and parasites can also lead to eye infections.

Eye infections can cause discomfort, liquid discharge, and swelling within the eyes. 

However, symptoms and treatment options for eye infections may differ based on the causative agent of the infection.

In this article, we will discover various eye infection causes and ways to prevent them.

Eye infection causes

Many factors can lead to eye infections, which may affect different areas of the eye. 

Some of the common factors leading to eye infections include bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and allergies.

Bacterial eye infections

bacterial-pink-eye-treatmentSource: Syda_productions
Closeup of a woman suffering from bacterial pink eye

Trauma, eye surgery, using contact lenses, immunological deficiencies, or other conditions that promote bacterial development can all lead to a bacterial eye infection

Conjunctivitis, Stye, and Blepharitis are the two most prevalent bacterial infections of the eyes.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva.

It can cause redness and liquid discharge from the eyes.

Blepharitis often occurs when the small oil glands surrounding your eyelashes clog.

It further causes them to become uncomfortable and inflamed.

A bacterial infection in the oil-producing glands of your eyelid causes a Stye.

It results in a painful red lump on the border of your eyelid.

Bacterial eye infections can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Read our article: Understanding Antibiotics for Eye Infections to know more.

To stop infections from spreading, avoid sharing towels, eye makeup, or other personal objects that come into contact with the eyes.

Viral eye infections

Viral Keratitis and Viral Pink Eye ( Conjunctivitis) are the two most common eye infections caused by the viruses.

Viral Keratitis is the inflammation of the cornea caused by herpes simplex virus. 

Viruses, such as adenovirus, herpes simplex virus, and varicella-zoster virus, can lead to Viral Conjunctivitis, which is highly contagious.

Fungal eye infections

Fungi seldom cause eye infections, but when they do, they can cause major complications.

Several fungi, such as Fusarium, Aspergillus, and Candida, can affect different regions of the eyes, leading to Fungal Keratitis and Endophthalmitis.

Fungal Keratitis is the infection of the cornea, the transparent outer layer of the eye.

Usually, contact lens usage, corticosteroid intake, and eye injury make you more prone to Fungal Keratitis.

Endophthalmitis is an infection of the fluid inside the eye.

Parasitic eye infections

Toxoplasma gondi and Acanthamoeba are the parasites that can seriously infect the eyes.

Parasites usually do not exhibit symptoms.

Parasitic eye infections can be challenging to diagnose.

Even while Acanthamoeba seldom results in an infection but when it does, it may harm your eyesight.

Direct contact between the parasite and your eye’s cornea can spread Acanthamoeba. 

Inadequate contact lens maintenance makes you more prone to Acanthamoebiasis.

The majority of Toxoplasmosis patients do not develop any kind of eye issues.

But when this condition occurs, it is known as Ocular Toxoplasmosis

Ocular Toxoplasmosis is more common among people with weakened immune systems.

It is also more prone in infants who have contracted the virus from their mothers.

The infection can result in blindness and corneal scarring if treatment is not received.

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Allergic eye infections

Allergic-pink-eyeSource: Africa's_Images
Allergic pink eye

The conjunctiva may become inflamed due to allergic responses brought on by mold spores, dust mites, pollens, or other airborne allergens.

This, in turn, can lead to Allergic Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis.

Common symptoms include redness, swelling, itching, tearing, and stringy discharge.

Around 20% of the population suffers from Allergic Conjunctivitis to some extent.

Preventing eye infections

You may greatly lower your chance of getting eye infections by implementing the following preventive measures:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water, especially before handling contact lenses or touching your eyes
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes frequently since this might cause bacteria and viruses to get into the eye
  • If you wear contact lenses, make sure to wash your hands before handling them. Ensure their regular cleaning and disinfection, and replace them as your eye care specialist advice
  • Protect your eyes with safety glasses when there’s a chance that particles, chemicals, or foreign objects will get into your eyes
  • Put on sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from too much sunshine 

Certain types of eye infections can become more common with prolonged UV radiation exposure

Eye infections may turn severe and lead to vision loss if left untreated. Contact your doctor immediately and seek help.


Viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and certain allergens are the common eye infection causes.

Bacterial, allergic, and viral eye infections are quite common.

However, eye infections of fungus or parasite origins are less common.

But they can sometimes create problems, particularly in those with weakened immune systems. 

It is essential to maintain good hygiene.

This includes cleaning your hands, not rubbing your eyes, and shielding your eyes from anything that might irritate them.

Any suspected eye infection must be treated medically immediately to avoid complications and treat the infection effectively

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Frequently Asked Questions

What causes eye infections?

Certain pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, allergies, and irritants, can lead to eye infections.

Can strep cause an eye infection?

Yes, an eye infection can result from group A strep
Strep infections can be brought on by the streptococcus bacterium. 
Both Streptococcal Endophthalmitis and Bacterial Pink Eye are eye infections that can be brought on by streptococcal bacteria.

Can an ear infection cause an eye infection?

No, an ear infection can not directly lead to an eye infection. 
However, if you have any problem in your ear, it may cause some discomfort in your eyes as your entire face is interconnected, extending from your ears to your eyes

What causes a bacterial eye infection?

Immune system deficiencies, trauma, eye surgery, contact lens usage, and other conditions that promote bacterial growth can all lead to bacterial eye infections. 
Conjunctivitis, sometimes referred to as Pink Eye, and Blepharitis are the two most prevalent bacterial infections of the eye.

Is eye infection contagious?

Yes, an eye infection caused by a bacteria or virus is highly contagious and can spread from one person to another through direct contact.

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