What do I do if I get an eye infection?
Eye infections can be uncomfortable and unsightly, but fortunately they are also a relatively common ailment that can be treated easily.While the best course of action is to consult your optometrist or doctor if you think you have an eye infection, there are some other things you can do to prevent infections from occurring in the first place, and to ease your symptoms when a diagnosis is confirmed.
Prevention is better than the cure
The old saying about prevention being better than the cure certainly rings true when it comes to eye infections. Infections can be caused by a variety of different sources, including bacteria, fungi or viruses. Most of these are transferred by touching your eye after coming in contact with one of these sources. This means that frequent hand-washing is essential. You should make sure you wash your hands with soap and warm water every time you use the toilet, as well as when you use public transportation, touch door handles or spend a considerable amount of time with other people or in crowds. You should also take care to wash your hands - or use an anti-bacterial hand sanitiser - frequently if you have a cold or are treating another infection, as you do not want to transfer this to your eye.
Know the signs of an eye infection
In spite of all the preventative measures you take, from time to time you may experience an eye infection. The symptoms of an eye infection can vary depending on the infection cause and type, but in general, you may experience itching, redness and discomfort. Some people notice swelling around their eye and you may also find that your eyes are either extra-dry or particularly watery. Some people also notice a discharge, blurred vision or an increased sensitivity to light.Because many eye infections are contagious - especially conjunctivitis, or pink eye, which is among the most common types of eye infection - you will want to take precautions to avoid spreading it to other people, or to your other eye. Washing your hands regularly and not sharing washcloths or towels are important preventative measures to limit the spread of eye infections. You will also want to wear glasses until you have a treatment plan in place if you are a contact lens-wearer. Of course, the most effective measure is to seek out treatment from your doctor or optometrist.
What are my eye infection treatment options?
Once you have visited your doctor or optometrist, you will have a treatment plan that will help you feel better in no time. The most important reason to visit a medical professional is to determine what type of eye infection you have. This will help them to advise the right type of treatment for you. You may be able to relieve the pain and discomfort of an eye infection with warm compresses applied regularly throughout the day. Make sure to use a clean washcloth each time to avoid spreading the infection further. The most common type of treatment for an eye infection is drops, which are usually administered to the affected eye several times a day. Ointments are also available, and if you are experiencing considerable swelling, your optometrist may also recommend a type of steroid drop that acts as an anti-inflammatory. If you have a more serious or persistent eye infection, oral medications may also be prescribed. Antiviral or antibiotic medications can help to combat eye infections - especially if you experience them on a recurring basis.