There are a number of infections which can affect the eye and vision. One of the most common is conjunctivitis. This is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the thin transparent layer that lines the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. Other eye infections include herpes zoster or shingles and herpes simplex infection.
ConjunctivitisConjunctivitis can be infectious, allergic or chemical.
- The infectious type of conjunctivitis is sometimes called pink eye. It is caused by a contagious virus or bacteria in the eye.
- Allergic conjunctivitis is caused when the body suffers an allergic reaction from pollen, cosmetics, or animals.
- Chemical conjunctivitis occurs when chemicals in pollution, fumes or the chlorine in swimming pools causes an irritation in the eye.
Most cases of conjunctivitis can be treated with eye drops. Antibiotic eye drops will be needed for infectious conjunctivitis. If the condition is caused by a virus then it can only be fought off by the body’s immune system. Eye drops will only relieve the symptoms and will not treat the condition.
Infectious conjunctivitis can spread easily so it is important to always wash your hands before putting drops in. Do not share towels, face cloths, cosmetics or eye drops with other people.
Herpes Zoster or ShinglesAlthough this is a condition which affects the skin, it can also affect the eyes. The eyes are connected to nerves which may be infected with the shingles virus.
The shingles can lead to a number of eye problems such as redness of the conjunctiva, an inflammation in the eye known as iritis or ubeitis and it can affect the optic nerve or retina. It may also cause scratches on the cornea which can increase the risk of bacteria in the eye and further infection. Other symptoms caused by shingles can include redness, swelling, sensitivity to light and blurred vision. In severe cases, shingles can cause more serious eye conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts.
Eye infections caused by shingles can be treated with eye drops and antiviral medications may also be prescribed by your doctor. In some cases steroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation.