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Eye infection symptoms differ between viral, fungal, and bacterial infections, but some symptoms appear in all three types. Redness in the affected eye is commonly seen in conjunctivitis, eyelid inflammations, and sties. Most infections also produce a discharge from the eye and some degree of discomfort. In some illnesses, swelling and blurred vision may be present, along with uncomfortable, itchy eyes.
Conjunctivitis, also called pink eye, is a highly contagious disease that can occur in one or both eyes. It can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or allergies, and usually requires medication to cure. Eye infection symptoms from pink eye include a red appearance in the thin membrane that covers the white part of the eyeball. Redness may also appear on the eyelids, along with intense itching. This infection can be spread by contact with infected people.
A stye on the eyelid also produces eye infection symptoms like redness and minor pain when blinking. The eye may also tear and become sensitive to light. Sties appear as a lump on the inner part of the upper or lower eyelid, and generally go away without treatment because the body fights the bacteria that caused it. Warm compresses can often help relieve discomfort during the healing process.
Another common eye infection symptom is crustiness and burning. These conditions are present in blepharitis, which is inflammation of the eyelid. Redness, swelling, and itchiness also might be noticed on the inner or outer edge of the eyelid. This bacterial infection requires regular personal hygiene to remove the crust that develops, and often antibiotics to kill the infection. For some sufferers, this infection routinely returns.
Those afflicted with autoimmune diseases are prone to repeated eye infections, which can lead to blindness. Their compromised immune systems make the eyes vulnerable to infection. Often, medication used to treat underlying medical conditions suppresses the immune system. Eye infection symptoms of major concern include pain and visual problems, such as distortion or loss of peripheral vision.
Contact lens users risk eye bacterial eye infections if they do not properly disinfect lenses and wear them according to instructions. Conjunctivitis is one of the most common eye infection symptoms seen in contact lens users. If not treated, it could lead to corneal infection, which is quite painful and could cause scarring of the cornea and loss of vision. Lens solutions formulated to prevent infection should be used.