You know that something is wrong with your eye when it’s red, swollen, itchy or watery. Eye infections are irritating, but they’re usually easily treatable.

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What causes eye infections?

There are many different kinds of eye infections. The most common ones include:

  • Pink eye: Pink eye is also called conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is a swelling or inflammation of the thin clear lining of the inside of the eyelid and the white part of the eyeball. Viruses like the common cold can cause a case of infectious conjunctivitis, but so can staphylococcal and streptococcal bacteria. You can spread the bacteria to your eye by handling something that’s already infected and then touching your eye.
  • Stye: Staphylococcus bacteria can get into an eyelash follicle and cause an infection. As a result of the infection, a painful lump rises along the edge of the eyelid.
  • Uveitis: Uveitis is an infection of the middle layer of the eye beneath the white part. Infections, as well as tumors and injuries, can cause inflammation in this part of the eye.
  • Corneal ulcer: A poke or other injury to the eye can tear the cornea just enough to let in bacteria, viruses and fungi. Inflammation of the cornea is called keratitis.

What are symptoms of an eye infection?

The most common symptoms of most eye infections are redness and swelling. Other symptoms can vary, depending on the cause of the infection. You might also notice:

  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Gritty feeling in the eye
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Itching or burning
  • Excessive tearing

If you wear contact lenses and experience any of these symptoms, put the lenses away for a while. Wear your glasses until you can see a healthcare provider for treatment.

How is an eye infection treated?

Most eye infections are easily treated. Your healthcare provider will examine your eyes and may even run a few tests. If the cause of the infection is bacterial, you can use antibiotic eye drops or ointment. A healthcare provider can also prescribe antifungal drops for a fungal infection.

If a virus is the culprit, you’ll have to wait for the virus to run its course. In the meantime, you can use artificial tear solution or try warm or cool compresses to relieve some of the symptoms.

However, there are eye infections, like uveitis, that may need more aggressive treatment. Without treatment, uveitis can lead to serious vision loss. That’s why it’s important to see a healthcare provider.

If you think you may have an eye infection and need treatment, CareNow® urgent care can help. Locate the nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic to set up a visit.

Our clinics are open seven days a week for walk-in patients. You can minimize your wait time with our Web Check-In®.