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Eye Infections Q&A

  • What is an eye infection? Eye infections are caused by a virus or bacteria in the environment that attacks the eye. The most common of these infections is conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye. An eye infection can happen in almost any part of the eye, such as the eyelid (blepharitis), the vitreous (vitritis), the optic nerve (neuroretinitis) and the cornea (keratitis)
  • What should I do if I spill chemicals in my eye? To treat a chemical eye burn: Flush the eyes out with cool water for at least 15 minutes. As you rinse, use your fingers to hold your eye open as wide as possible and roll your eye to ensure the greatest coverage. Remove contact lenses, if applicable, if they do not come out during flushing. After flushing, it is best to visit your eye care professional to treat any inflammation or damage which may have occurred to the eye and surrounding tissues.
  • What should I do if I get sand, metal, or wood, in my eyes? A corneal foreign body is an object (eg, metal, glass, wood, plastic, sand) either superficially adherent to or embedded in the cornea of the eye. The removal of a corneal foreign body is a procedure commonly performed in the eye doctor’s office or emergency department setting. If corneal foreign bodies are not removed in a timely manner, they can cause prolonged pain and lead to complications such as infection and ocular necrosis.
  • I am seeing spots or floating colors suddenly, what do I do? Eye floaters are spots in your vision. They may look to you like black or gray specks, strings, or cobwebs that drift about when you move your eyes and appear to dart away when you try to look at them directly.Most eye floaters are caused by age-related changes that occur as the jelly-like substance (vitreous) inside your eyes becomes more liquid. Microscopic fibers within the vitreous tend to clump and can cast tiny shadows on your retina. The shadows you see are called floaters.

    If you notice a sudden increase in eye floaters, contact an eye specialist immediately — especially if you also see light flashes or lose your peripheral vision. These can be symptoms of an emergency that requires prompt attention.

  • Are eye infections dangerous? Infection can be an underlying cause of a corneal ulcer, which resembles an abscess on the eye. If left untreated, a corneal ulcer can lead to severe vision loss. More serious eye infections can penetrate the deeper, interior portions of the eye to create sight-threatening conditions such as endophthalmitis.
  • Can my child go to school with an eye infection? Viral pink eye may last for up to two weeks. You do not need to keep your child out of school or daycare for that whole time. Children with bacterial pink eye may return to school or daycare 24 hours after starting eyedrops or ointment.
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