This chapter describes some of the 5 common eye infections: Conjunctivitis, stye, chalazion, dacryocystitis and corneal ulcer.
Related Blog: Eye Problems of Childhood And Eye Diseases of Children
Types of Eye Infections:
- Stye Eye disease
- Chalazion Infection
- And corneal ulcer Eye Infections
Commonly known as ‘Madras eye’, conjunctivitis is an infection of the mucous covering layer of the eye – the conjunctiva. It can be caused by bacteria and viruses or it can sometimes present itself as a manifestation of an allergic reaction.
The eye becomes red and produces a lot of tears, and a thick discharge may cause the eyelids to stick to each other. Increased sensitivity to light may cause discomfort. Allergic conjunctivitis will usually cause itching and redness.
Conjunctivitis is not spread by looking at an infected person’s eye. It is transmitted by the tears and discharge which are laden with microbe s.
The infection spreads when people come in contact with towel s, handkerchiefs, door handles, etc. which have been used by infected persons.
Rest, antibiotic eye drop s and frequent cleaning of the eye an e some of the treatment options use d for conjunctivitis. Dark glasses are advised to prevent discomfort caused by light sensitivity.
Some types of conjunctivitis may present with more severe symptoms which require aggressive management.
02. Stye Eye Disease:
A style is an infection of follicle Gland in the eyelashes. It is painful and feels warm to the touch and can usually be seen as a margin of the lid. Styles are treated using antibiotics and fomentation and by removing the eyelash that is infected.
03. Chalazion Infection:
A Chalazion is a chronic inflammatory swelling of the gland s of the eyelid. UNlike a stye, it is not painful and only causes cosmetic Disfigurement. It can be treated with antibiotics and by making a small incision over it to remove the contents of the swelling.
Dacryocystitis is an infection of the tear drainage system which causes chronic watering and discharges from the eyes.
This infection is treated with antibiotics in the initial state sand with surgery either to remove the infected tissue or to make an alternative connection between the drainage system and the nose, in the advanced stages of the infection.
05. Corneal Ulcer Eye Disease:
A corneal ulcer is a breach in the continuity of the layers of the cornea which may get infected by bacteria, fungi, viruses or parasites.
Corneal trauma and subsequent infection account for 5 percent of all blinding conditions in the world and 20-3 0 percent of all blindness in developing countries.
Corneal ulcers are very common in Africa and Asia, where agricultural work is a major cause of ocular trauma leading to corneal ulceration and blindness.
In a study performed at Aravind Eye Hospital, it was found that the annual incidence of corneal ulceration in the Madurai district was 11.3 in a population of 10,000 which is ten times more than that in the US.
The risk factors for corneal ulcer are as follows:
- Trauma is the commonest risk factor. It could be caused by vegetable matter in the agricultural field or small metallic objects falling in the eye. It could also be due to prolonged and careless use of contact lenses.
- Lid infection or infections of the tear drainage system.
- Vitamin A deficiency.
- Dry eyes due to deficiency of tears.
- Incomplete closure of the eyes due to nerve paralysis.
The human eye has some features that protect the eye from infections:
- The eyelids are instinctively close to blocking the entry of foreign organisms into the eye.
- Tears play a major role in protection. Apart from flushing the dust and debris out of the eye, they also contain some antibacterial enzymes that fight microbes.
- The intact cornea is a very resilient structure which resists organisms from lodging into it. However, it is vulnerable to infection if there are any abrasions which may peel the covering surface (called the epithelium).
Each infectious agent has a few distinctive characteristics which help in identifying them.
These characteristics are listed below:
- Bacterial ulcers occur when local defense mechanisms are compromised or systemic resistance is low. The bacteria can be introduced into the cornea through foreign bodies or as a result of decreased eye hygiene.
- Fungal ulcers are more common in warmer climates like that in India. Its incidence increases during the harvesting season when farmers are exposed to plants, leaves, thorns or grains that may cause ocular injuries.
- Parasites are found in all water sources like swimming pools, contact lens solutions, drinking water tanks, etc. They can infect the eye of contact lens users.
The symptoms of a corneal ulcer are:
- Severe pain in the eyes
- Discharge from the eyes—could be thick or watery
- Diminished vision
Diagnosis of a corneal ulcer is made after the history is elicited from the patient and the affected eye is examined.
A scraping of the edge of the ulcer is taken and examined under the microscope to determine the causative agent. A portion of the scraping is grown on different culture media to isolate the organism and identify it.
Treatment of corneal ulcers is initiated after the causative organism has been identified. It comprises frequent application of antibacterial, antifungal or antiviral drugs (depending on the microbial organisms) in the eye.
The pain is alleviated using painkillers and cycloplegics. Good eye hygiene and cleaning of the discharge from the eye are supportive measures in healing the ulcer. If the ulcer does not heal in response to medications, corneal transplantation should be performed.
A common problem in rural areas is the use of traditional medicines for corneal ulcers. Anything from human breast milk and leaf extracts to hen’s blood and vegetable oil is poured into the eye by village quacks.
This practice should be strongly discouraged and immediate treatment by a qualified eye care professional should be sought.
Good eye and hand hygiene are important for the protection of eye infections. Protective shields or glasses can be used by workers to avoid injury to the eyes.
People who wear contact lenses should be educated about the risk of infection due to its overuse and inadequate attention paid to cleaning the lenses.
Corneal Transplants and Eye Donation
The cornea is a multi-layered, transparent tissue in the anterior portion of the eye. When the transparency of this tissue is lost, it needs to be replaced by performing a procedure known as corneal transplantation. This surgery is called keratoplasty.
It has to be understood that the whole eye is not replaced – only the cornea is transplanted. Hence this procedure is useful only in instances where corneal disorders are the cause of visual disability.
Unlike cataract surgery, where an artificial lens is used to replace the opaque lens, the only substitute that is available to treat a defective cornea is by transplanting a cornea from the eye of a dead person.
The cornea from the donor’s eye is used in keratoplasty, while the other parts of the donor’s eye like the sclera and the lens can be used for other surgical procedures or research.
The main reasons for the loss of transparency of the cornea are as follows:
- Corneal injuries: Usually sustained during work; subsequent ulceration opacities the cornea.
- Corneal dystrophy: A person is born with or develops an abnormal cornea, usually due to genetic defects.
- Postoperative decompensation: Sometimes the cornea can lose its transparency due to complications of cataract surgery.
In India, the demand for corneas far exceeds the available supply. The National Programme for the Control of Blindness estimates that around 100,000 corneal blind people require corneal transplants at any given time.
The guidelines for eye donation are as follows:
- Any person of any age or sex can donate his eye after death.
- Wearing spectacles or having diabetes or hypertension are not contraindications for eye donation.
- Those who have undergone eye surgeries can also donate their eyes.
However, with the increasing prevalence of infectious diseases, it has now become important for the eye bank to restrict donations in the following cases in order to prevent disease transmission:
- Death due to rabies
- Death due to jaundice
- Death due to AIDS and syphilis
- Death due to septicemia
- Death due to viral diseases
- Death of unknown cause
- Acute viral hepatitis
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Congenital rubella
- Cancer in the eye
Since actual eye donation is effected after death, the family members, respecting the wishes of the deceased, should contact the nearest eye bank to offer the eyes. The dead individual need not be a registered donor with the eye banks.
The removal of the eyes (enucleation) is a simple procedure and takes about 30 minutes to perform. It does not cause any disfigurement. To rule out blood-borne infection, 5 ml of blood is collected from the deceased donor.
The donated eyeball is processed in the eye bank. After evaluation, the cornea is excised from the eyeball and stored in a preservative medium for up to a maximum period of 10 days. The collected donor blood is tested for the AIDS and Hepatitis B viruses.
After determining the suitability of the cornea, it is distributed to the eye hospitals to be used for transplantation.
Corneal transplant surgery, which replaces the disc-shaped segment of the diseased cornea with a similarly shaped piece of a healthy one, the corneal button, can be performed either under local or general anesthesia. The donor corneal button is placed and is sutured with a very fine thread, often finer than a human hair.
Following the corneal transplantation, periodic follow-ups with the eye specialist are mandatory. The donor cornea, like any foreign tissue, is likely to undergo rejection and hence, adequate attention should be paid to postoperative care.
Another major goal of the eye bank is to create awareness among the public regarding eye donation.
This may be accomplished by several means:
- Displaying posters about eye donation in prominent public places.
- Displaying messages on television, radio and other media.
- Conducting awareness lectures in schools, colleges, and industries
- Publishing success stories of corneal transplants in newspapers
- Networking with voluntary organizations like the Lions and Rotary clubs to spread the message of eye donation.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the most common eye infections?
Examples of aggressive, fungal and bacterial eye disease build Pink eye or conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis, further called “pink eye,” is a natural, highly poisonous eye infections that often is advance among children in day care centers, classrooms, and comparable environments.
How do I get rid of eye infections?
To cut down the symptoms of bacterial or viral pink eye you can:
- Catch ibuprofen or another over-the-counter agony killer.
- Purpose over-the-counter lubricating eye drops (artificial tears).
- Bring a warm, damp washcloth over your eyes for a few minutes.
How long do eye infections last?
If your pink eye is created by a common viral disease and no other complications exist, then your eyes should clear up within a minor day to two weeks. Pink eye again can be caused by bacterial conjunctivitis, which – even with hospitalization such as prescription antibiotic eye drops – can closing up to a month or longer.
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