Symptoms and Causes of Eye Infection


There are a number of different symptoms that you might experience if you have an eye infection. They range from looking unsightly to being irritating and even very painful. They can include:

  • Red eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Swollen eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Discharge from the eye
  • Eye pain

Something simple, like a small particle might be the cause of your eye irritation, for example. However, it might not necessarily lead to an infection. If you're aware that something has entered your eye, you could remove it carefully, perhaps by washing it out with an eye wash solution.

What if you have any of the symptoms listed and don't know what has caused them though? If you're in any doubt, don't take chances with your eyes. It's best to get advice from a healthcare professional or optician as soon as you can.

Causes of eye infections

Broadly speaking, there are 3 main causes of eye infections:

  • bacteria
  • viruses
  • fungi

They can all invade your eye or the area around your eye. A number of different conditions can result. Let's have a look at some possibilities: 

Infective conjunctivitis

This is quite a common condition where the conjunctiva becomes inflamed. This is the thin, clear film covering of the whites of your eyes and the inside of the eyelids. You eye will look red and may itch or be swollen and there is sometimes a sticky coating that forms on your eyelashes. Various bacteria and viruses can be the cause.

Mostly infective conjunctivitis clears up with treatment. It’s not usually serious, but it can be spread to other people. So, if you have conjunctivitis, wash your hands if you touch your eyes and don't share towels or pillows. 


A stye looks like a small pink or red bump on your eyelid. It is the result of bacteria from your skin invading the hair follicle of an eyelash. A stye can look nasty, feel sore and be annoying, but it can easily be treated. 

Corneal infections

The cornea is the tissue at the front of your eye. A corneal ulcer (an open sore) can result from physical damage that allows bacteria, fungi or viruses to enter the wound causing symptoms like redness, swelling and pain. Fungal keratitis can occur if your eye has been damaged by plant material. For example, if a twig or branch scratches the cornea, a fungus can be introduced into your eye, causing an infection.

Another corneal infection called acanthamoeba keratitis is known to affect contact lens wearers. This is actually caused by a parasite entering the eye and can be a serious sight-threatening infection. Contact lens wearers need to be very careful about the purity and source of their lens cleaning solutions to help prevent this problem. 

Treatment for eye infections

If you need treatment, then what you get will depend on the cause of the infection. Treatments like antibiotic and antiviral eye drops, ointments and compresses can quickly clear up your infection. However, some eye infections may need treatment with a course of antibiotics or antivirals.

Eyes, as we all know, are delicate structures. So if you have any of the symptoms listed try not to rub your eye or touch it if at all possible. You may only make it worse or could even cause physical damage, which can put you at risk of an infection.

Optrex has a range of solutions that can help various eye conditions, such as Optrex Sore Eye Drops. These eye drops contain the active ingredient Hamamelis Virginiana (distilled Witch Hazel) and are only available from pharmacies. Ensure you always read the label and seek medical help if your symptoms persist. You can find out more with our solution finder here. If you're in any doubt about the cause of an eye problem, as we've already suggested, it's always best to get medical help.

Always read the label.



Optrex Sore Eye Drops

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