Are Eye Infections Contagious?

There are many different types of eye infections.

When patients come in for an eye exam for contacts or glasses, it is common practice to check for most of these conditions. When people have red eyes, they most often think pink eye, whose official name is conjunctivitis. However, most people do not know that conjunctivitis can occur in three different forms of eye infection.

The types of eye infections found in an eye exam

Bacterial infections
Bacteria will cause a pink or reddish tint to the eyes, but it is not uncommon to also see mucopurulent discharge, which is a mixture of mucus, puss, and other liquid secretions that leak from the eye. If there is redness of the conjunctiva, (the parts of your eye that are not white) there is also the possibility for itchiness, which can lead to tearing in the eye.
Viral infections
Viral eye infections also have discharge, known as mucoid discharge. This is less liquid and more of a gel-like discharge. Viral infections will commonly cause redness of the conjunctiva (the parts of your eye that are not white). They will often cause sensitivity to light, itchiness in the eye, and will very often cause tearing in the eye. It is important to see an eye doctor immediately with any of these conditions, a simple eye exam for contacts can be all that is needed to diagnose and treat these conditions.
Allergy-related infections
This is typically the least urgent infection. It will usually not result in discharge, tearing, or itching. However, there will be redness, as you are exposed to allergens.

Are these eye infections contagious?

Bacterial and viral infections are both contagious. It is important to be cautious when you have these conditions as they can be spread to others. Allergic eye infections however are not contagious.

How to treat various eye infections

Bacterial infections require antibiotics to treat. They will usually come in the form of antibiotic eye drops. Many different brands can be prescribed, and the treatment can last from 5 to 10 days.
Viral eye infections simply have to run their course. This can take between two and three weeks. Try to touch your eyes as little as possible during this time. Use artificial tears when possible to keep your eyes from drying out. If your eyes get red or itchy, use a cool compress. If your eyes get crusty, use a warm compress. In children, antibiotics are typically used as they have a higher tendency to touch their eyes and spread the infection, while most adults can avoid this and let the condition pass without medication.
Allergy infections can be cured with simple home remedies such as cool cucumbers or allergy eye drops that can be bought over the counter.

More questions? Contact Us!

Above all else, the best way to avoid any eye infection or condition is to wash your hands frequently. If you have any more questions do not hesitate to contact the eye care experts at Complete Family Eyecare today!
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