Eye Infection Symptoms and Causes

eye infection symptoms

Like other organs, eyes too are prone to catch and develop infections. The eyes comprise the cornea, tear ducts, iris, lens, retina and optic nerve. Each of these can be affected by viruses or bacteria. The majority of us will deal with an eye condition, at least once in our lives. Most of the times, at-home treatment and remedies suffice, but it’s always a good idea to ask a doctor’s opinion before administering any kind of eye drops.


Some of the most common eye infection symptoms are:

  • Pain in one or both of the eyes;
  • A “foreign body” feeling;
  • Unusual discharge or excessive watering;
  • Eye or eyelid redness;
  • A white or gray sore spot on the iris;
  • Blurred or foggy eyesight;
  • Itchiness and sticky eyelids sensation.


Spending too much time in front of the laptop, pollution, strain and dust are just some of the risk factors that help viruses and bacteria develop into eye conditions. Other causes of eye infections include:

  • Herpes simplex – this virus doesn’t only stand for a skin disease. It will infect the eye in the same way it affects the skin, setting off the ulceration of the cornea.
  • Bacterial keratitis – this cornea infection is caused by bacteria that is found in our mouths and our skin. While the bacteria can’t usually go beyond the outer layer of the eye, a weak immune system and eye injuries can help it penetrate the cornea. Contact lens wearers are also vulnerable since their eyes might lack oxygen, allowing fungi to produce fungal keratitis.
  • Sinus infection – the common upper teeth pain and congested nose sensation is also sometimes accompanied by an eye infection.

Most common eye conditions

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis is usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae. The first sign will be eye discharge or pus, which can appear in one or both eyes. The bacteria can come from another infected person or contact with a contaminated surface.
  • Viral conjunctivitis is extremely contagious since it’s easily spread through sneezes and coughs. This type of conjunctivitis is usually accompanied by a watery discharge. The eyes can cure themselves and all the patient can do is use eye drops to alleviate the symptoms.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis is triggered by an allergy to pollen, dust or animal dander. The typical symptoms include itchiness and dryness. The only solution to soothe allergic conjunctivitis are eye drops.
  • Ocular herpes develops when the virus manages to penetrate and infect the cornea. The first symptoms will be eye redness, vision changes, and sensitivity to bright light and permanent discomfort. In some cases, the infection makes its way deep into the cornea layers, leaving scars and damaging the patient’s vision. Eye drops help reduce the inflammation and calm the other symptoms.
  • Corneal ulcer translates to an open wound which can be the result of a virus. Previous injuries leave your eyes more vulnerable and exposed to viruses. When a virus infects the ulcer, you’ll notice pain, excessive watering, light sensitivity and irritation. A foggy film might be visible over the cornea, pointing to an ulcer.


It’s always important to take into account all eye infection symptoms and act in a timely manner. Detecting an infection early on can minimize the damages and offers more changes for a speedy recovery.

For more information about eye health, check out All You Need to Know about Eye Health.