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Do I Have an Eye Infection? What Should I Do?

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You woke up to discover that your eyes are itchy and bloodshot. Is it an eye infection? Should you book an urgent appointment with an optometrist near you?

In general, only a qualified eye doctor can determine if you’re suffering from an eye infection. However, there are several symptoms of eye emergencies to watch out for. Our eye doctors in North Edmonton, Downtown Edmonton, and Sherwood Park, Alberta, explain.

Typical symptoms of an eye infection

First of all, irritating symptoms can occur in a few different parts of your eye, including the eyelid, cornea (clear outer surface), and conjunctiva (thin layer that covers the inside of your eyelids and whites of your eyes). You may experience:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Pain or irritation
  • Sensation that something is in or on your eye
  • Light sensitivity
  • Burning or stinging
  • Small, painful lump at the base of your lashes or under your eyelid
  • Tender eyelid
  • Excessive tearing
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Fever

Some symptoms of an eye infection are visibly noticeable, such as:

  • Pink color in the sclera (white part) of your eye
  • Discharge that’s clear, yellow, or greenish
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Red or purple eyelids
  • Crusty lashes and lids, especially when you wake up in the morning

Not all eye infections are equal

Your optometrist will evaluate  your symptoms and perform a thorough eye exam to diagnose whether or not you have an eye infection. There’s a range of different eye infections that you can get, some of which qualify as eye emergencies. For example:

  • Pink eye/conjunctivitis – this infection typically tints your eyes a pink color. It can be caused by a virus (often the common cold) or bacteria, and sometimes you can get it from irritants or an allergic reaction. When it results from bacteria, you’ll need antibiotic eye drops or ointment for treatment.
  • Keratitis – an inflammation of the cornea that occurs most commonly in people who wear contact lenses. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites in water – and it can be dangerous when left untreated.
  • Stye – often appears as painful red bumps at the base of your eyelashes or under your eyelid. Styes usually happen when the oil glands in your eyelid get infected with bacteria.
  • Fungal eye infections – while rare, these type of eye infections are dangerous and must be treated as eye emergencies. Fungal eye infections tend to occur after an injury, especially if you got a scratch in your eye from a plant.
  • Uveitis – this inflammation of the middle layer of your eye can result from certain viruses, but it is more typically linked to autoimmune disorders.

Visit an optometrist near you for diagnosis

Don’t take risks with your vision! If you think you may have an eye infection, visit your local optometrist. Contact our optometrist in North Edmonton, Downtown Edmonton, and Sherwood Park, Alberta, to book an immediate eye exam.


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