10 Signs of An Eye Infection

By Marisa Ramiccio. May 7th 2016

Eye infections can be caused by any number of things, including dirty contact lenses, touching your eyes with unclean hands or even certain medical conditions. In some cases, people may mistake an eye infection for allergies or a cold since the symptoms can be similar. If you’ve experienced some changes to your eyes, read on to find out if they’re the signs of an eye infection.

Swollen Eyelids

Swollen eyelids can be a sign of many eye problems, but they’re certainly a sign of an eye infection if they are painful. Painful swollen eyelids can be caused by a bacterial infection or a fungal infection that comes from unclean contact lenses. If you experience painful swollen eyelids, avoid rubbing or touching them as that can transfer bacteria to the eye, which can make the symptoms of an eye infection worse.

Eye Discharge

Eye discharge is a telltale sign that bacteria is in your eye. Waking up with crusty eyelids or discharge in the corner of your eye is one of the more serious symptoms of an eye infection.

Eye discharge is usually yellow and sticky, but can feel crusty and can make your eyes feel like they’re glued shut. If you wake up with crusty eyelids, use a warm washcloth to loosen the crust and allow your eyes to open.

Blurred Vision

Blurred vision is not only annoying, it can also be a serious sign of an eye infection. If left untreated, eye infections can lead to a loss of vision, so if it becomes harder and harder for you to see, it’s time to seek medical attention.

Persistent Itching

Itchy eyes are a common sign of allergies, which is one of the reasons why it’s so easy to mistake an eye infection for irritation caused by allergies. In an eye infection, the itchiness is caused by the contact between the bacteria and the eye. It’s important that you refrain from scratching your eyes because that can transfer more bacteria to your eye. Instead, try an over-the-counter antihistamine, which will relieve the itching until you can visit a doctor. An itchy eye is also a sign of conjunctivitis, better known as pink eye.


Redness, or red eye, is a very common symptom of many issues of the eye including allergies, infection, tiredness or even the flu. Red eyes are caused by the irritation of the blood vessels in the surface of the eye. This symptom is common among contact-wearers who don’t clean their lenses often, which is one of the main causes of an eye infection.

Watery Eyes

Watery eyes or increased tearing is another sign of an eye infection that tends to be mistaken for a sign of allergies. Watery eyes may be caused by clogged tear ducts, another symptom of an eye infection. You may be tempted to wipe those tears from your eyes with your finger, but it’s best to do so with a tissue so you don’t exacerbate the infection. Antibiotics can easily stop this symptom in both adults and children.

Light Sensitivity

This includes sensitivity to fluorescent and incandescent light as well as sunlight. It’s typically caused by inflammation or irritation from an eye infection. If you’re experiencing light sensitivity, you may want to try wearing prosthetic contact lenses, which reduces the amount of light that hits your eyes.

Flaking Eyelids

This symptom is also known as granulated eyelids and is indicative of blepharitis, a type of eye infection that’s caused by bacterial or skin conditions. In some cases, blepharitis is caused by a lack of hygiene, but it can also be caused by allergies or oily eye glands. A topical cream, medicine or antibiotics may be used to treat this type of infection.

Blocked Tear Duct

Chronic eye infections can cause the tear ducts to become clogged or blocked. Blocked tear ducts, in turn, can cause eye infections because the tears aren’t washing away the bacteria in the eye. It’s one of the more serious signs of an eye infection and may require surgery if severe enough, but it usually can be treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms In One Eye

Although many of these signs overlap with other conditions, particularly allergies, there is one sign that distinguishes an eye infection from these conditions. If these symptoms occur in both eyes, they’re most likely caused by an allergy. However, if these symptoms only appear in one eye, they’re probably caused by an infection.

Other common symptoms of an eye infection include eye pain, discomfort, vision problems and swelling around the eye. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of an eye infection so that you don’t mistake it for allergies or another condition. If you don’t think that you have an eye infection, you won’t be able to seek medical attention and treat it early, before the symptoms worsen.


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