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Eye Facts

All Things Eye Infections

by Zoe Drew 27 Sep 2022
All Things Eye Infections

Did you know 1 in 8 kids will suffer from an eye infection each year?

Eye infections are incredibly common and can be caused by a variety of factors such as bacteria, viruses, or even injuries. It is important to know the symptoms of the different kinds of eye infections so that you can halt progression and start treatment as soon as possible.

Viral Conjunctivitis

Commonly known as pink eye, this is the most common eye infection due to its highly contagious nature. It's not unusual for a child to pick up pink eye at school, in the playground or even playing team sports. It will usually affect both eyes, reducing the child's ability to see and causing discomfort. 

Your child may have viral conjunctivitis if you notice the white parts of their eye have a pink or red tinge and they become increasingly watery. It also causes the eyelids to become quite swollen or stuck together, especially after the child has woken up. Thankfully, pink eye usually resolves itself within seven days and discomfort can be alleviated with eye drops and ice packs.

Bacterial Conjunctivitis 

Like viral conjunctivitis, bacterial conjunctivitis is also highly contagious, however, its symptoms are slightly different. In addition to a pink of red tinge in the white parts of the eye and swollen eyelids, you may also notice a yellow or green discharge. Due to the presence of bacteria, it needs to be treated with antibiotic eye drops as this prevents it spreading and causing permanent damage.

Blocked Tear Ducts

Blocked tear ducts are less common that conjunctivitis, however, they can still cause discomfort due to watery eyes and blurred vision. As the tear ducts cannot drain themselves, this condition can cause redness in the eye, discharge and swollen eyelids. It is most common in newborns and while it usually resolves itself, if this becomes a constant issue, it is best to seek medical attention. While it is rare, a blocked tear duct is sometimes caused by a tumour pressing itself onto the tear drainage system.

Orbital Cellulitis 

Unlike conjunctivitis, Orbital Cellulitis is not contagious, however, it is much more serious. It starts in the tissue at the back of the eye, spreading inwards and usually stems from sinus infections that have spread to the membrane that covers the front of the eye (orbital septum).

Its symptoms include; redness in the eye, swollen eyelids, the eye protruding forward, green, yellow or bloody discharge from the eye or nose, difficulty moving the eye, sensitivity to light and fever. As Orbital Cellulitis is caused by a deeper infection, in addition to affecting the eye, if left untreated it can also lead to respiratory conditions or even meningitis. Due to this, if you have concerns about your child's eye infection, it is always safest to seek an opinion from a doctor or eye care professional.

Something Else...

Sometimes eye infections are caused by small particles such as sand, dust or dirt becoming stuck under the eyelid and irritating the eye. This may be due to the environments your child plays in or the transfer of particles or fungi onto contact lenses.

If left untreated, this can lead to infections such as bacterial conjunctivitis, which can have more serious consequences. If you notice your child rubbing their eye or complaining of discomfort after a trip to the beach or park, it is a good idea to flush their eye with eye drops as this can assist in removing any nasty particles aggravating your child's eyes. If symptoms persist, it is always best to seek medical attention.

How can I avoid my child getting an eye infection?

To keep your kiddo's eyes infection-free, it's important to teach them about hygiene. First off, show them how to scrub their hands with soap and water and explain why they should keep their fingers away from their eyes. Sharing things like towels, pillows or makeup can spread germs, so make sure they know to keep their stuff to themselves. If their friend has gooey eyes, it's best to cancel any playdates and avoiding dusty, pollen-filled places is a good call to dodge eye irritation and infections. These simple steps will help keep their eyes shining bright and infection-free.

What should I do if I think my child has an eye infection?

As you probably noticed, the signs and symptoms of a lot of eye infections are quite similar so we highly recommend you see a doctor or eye care professional to ensure you are treating the infection in the appropriate way.

Eye infections can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated due to bacteria, fungi or viruses invading the eye and its surrounding areas. Not only that, they are incredibly contagious so, it you have other little ones running around your home, it is likely that they too will become infected. This is what makes correct diagnosis and treatment so important.

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