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Signs of an Eye Infection

Signs of an Eye Infection

Signs of an eye infection may include:

  • Pain in the eye.
  • A feeling that something is in the eye (foreign body sensation).
  • Increased sensitivity to light ( photophobia ).
  • Yellow, green, bloody, or watery discharge from the eye.
  • Increasing redness of the eye or eyelids.
  • A gray or white sore on the colored part of the eye (iris).
  • Fever with no other cause.
  • Blurred or decreased vision.

Your eyes may often water or tear. You may notice a small amount of white or creamy drainage at times. If you have no pain or other symptoms, home treatment is usually all that is needed. More serious infections affect the entire eye area (periorbital cellulitis) or the lacrimal sacs ( dacryocystitis ). Any signs of infection along with a change in your vision or other symptoms need to be evaluated by a doctor.

Infection can develop in the eye from irritation, such as getting a small amount of a chemical in the eye. Infection can also occur after a minor eye injury or a small scratch on the cornea. If untreated, some types of eye infections can damage the eye very quickly.

Infections can be more severe in people who wear contact lenses. If you think you may have an eye infection, remove your contacts and wear your glasses.

Herpes zoster ophthalmicus ( shingles ) affects the nerves of the eye and can cause symptoms, such as swelling, pain, and drainage, similar to an eye infection.

If the eye has been injured—scratched, cut, punctured, or burned—a current tetanus shot is recommended.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Last Revised January 25, 2013

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