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Eye Infection Symptoms & Signs to Watch Out For

Gina Walters


eye infection symptoms

You may have an eye infection if you feel pain, redness, or itching in your eye. It is a common problem that can affect different parts of the eye.

Some eye infections, such as Conjunctivitis, are minor and resolve in a few days. Others, if left untreated, can cause serious vision difficulties. 

Recognizing the symptoms of eye infection is essential for timely detection and appropriate treatment.

This article provides an informative guide on recognizing common eye infections symptoms.

Common signs of eye infection

Eye infections can present with a range of signs, including redness, discomfort, discharge, and alterations in vision.  The common signs of eye infection include:

Redness in the eye: The white part of the eyes may appear red or pink due to increased blood flow caused by inflammation.

Swelling: Your eyelid or other parts of the eye may swell due to inflammation.

Eye discomfort: You may experience eye pain, irritation, itching, or a burning sensation in the eye.

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Discharge: Tearing and discharge (which may be clear, white, yellow, or greenish based on the infection type) may be a sign.

Blurry vision: Your vision may feel blurry or hazy temporarily.

Light sensitivity: Discomfort in brightly lit environments (photophobia) may be a symptom.

Grittiness: You may experience scratchiness and a sensation of something stuck in your eye.

Viral eye infection symptoms

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

Viral eye infections, such as Conjunctivitis (pink eye), are extremely contagious and commonly caused by adenoviruses. 

Viral pink eye, which causes an inflammation of the outer layer of the eye,  is the most common viral eye infection. 

The symptoms of viral eye infections include:

  • Pink or red appearance of the eye
  • Irritation or itchy eyes
  • Excessive tearing or watery discharge
  • Discomfort or burning sensation
  • Eye discomfort in well-lit environments
  • Swollen eyelids
Viral eye infections often affect both eyes, with symptoms starting in one eye and spreading to the other within a few days.

Fungal eye infection symptoms

Fungal eye infections are rare and typically caused by fungi such as Fusarium, Aspergillus, or Candida. 

These fungi enter the eye due to trauma, contact lens use, or weakened immune system. 

Fungal Keratitis, or the inflammation of the cornea, is the most common fungal infection. The symptoms of fungal eye infections like Keratitis include:

  • Extreme redness in the infected eye
  • Trouble focusing and blurry vision
  • Intense or throbbing eye pain
  • Photophobia in well-lit settings
  • A clear, white, or yellowish discharge 
  • Swollen eyes
If left untreated, fungal eye infections can lead to severe complications like corneal damage or vision impairment, due to which, timely medical intervention is important

Bacterial eye infection symptoms

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

The most common bacterial eye infections include Conjunctivitis, Keratitis, Blepharitis, and Stye. 

These are caused by bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae. 

These bacteria spread through direct contact with infected individuals or contaminated objects. 

Bacterial infections can develop in various forms. The symptoms of some common bacterial eye infections include:

Bacterial pink eye: A yellow or green discharge (which may be thick or crusty), pain, redness, blurry vision, light sensitivity.

Blepharitis: Eyelid inflammation that causes redness, itchiness, and crusting along the eyelid margins.

Bacterial Keratitis: Corneal infection, causing pain, redness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light.

Stye: A painful, red lump due to a localized bacterial infection in an eyelash follicle or eyelid gland.

Learn everything you need to know about Bacterial Conjunctivitis. Check outBacterial Pink Eye: A Guide to Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment

The following table lists common symptoms of eye infections and if they are present in various types of eye infections.

Symptoms Viral eye infections Bacterial eye infections Fungal eye infections
RednessVery commonVery commonVery common
DischargeWatery or slightly cloudy dischargeYellow/greenish discharge, sometimes thick or crustyWatery or colored discharge
Blurry visionRareSometimesCommon
Light sensitivitySometimesCommonCommon
Sensation of foreign object in the eyeSometimesSometimesSometimes

Summing up

Eye infections may be fungal, viral, or bacterial. The symptoms depend on the specific pathogen causing the infection and the affected area. 

However, redness, eye pain, discomfort, blurry vision, and light sensitivity are common signs of eye infection. 

Recognizing the symptoms of eye infections is essential to maintain eye health and preserve vision. 

Early diagnosis and proper treatment can ensure quick recovery and prevent potential vision complications. 

Regular eye check-ups and prompt attention to any unusual symptoms are important for maintaining good eye health and overall well-being. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of a fungal eye infection?

Fungal eye infections can cause significant redness, pain, impaired vision, light sensitivity, discharge, swelling, and, occasionally, the sensation of a foreign object in the eye.

What are the symptoms of a bacterial eye infection?

Bacterial eye infections are characterized by redness, discharge (yellow/green), eye discomfort, swelling, impaired vision, and occasionally crusting of the eyelids.

Can eye infection cause other symptoms?

Eye infections can sometimes cause headaches, fever (in severe cases), and visual abnormalities or eye problems if left untreated.

Is eye infection one of the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 does not commonly cause eye infections. However, Conjunctivitis (pink eye) was recorded in a limited proportion of COVID-19 cases.

Do eye infections cause headaches?

Headaches can occur due to eye infections as a result of strain, discomfort, or inflammation, although they are not necessarily a direct sign of eye infections.

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