Types of Eye Infections

An eye infection is a general term applied to many different conditions. Eye infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, allergies, or other microbiological means. Some common types of eye infections are pink eye, or conjunctivitis, blepharitis, and trachoma. These varieties of infections can spread easily and lead to larger problems including blurred vision, damage to the retina, cornea, or optic nerve, or even blindness.

Human eye anatomy


Individuals who wear contact lenses are likely to contract an eye infection due to the buildup of bacteria. If the lenses are not properly cleaned and disinfected, bacteria are able to build up quickly. Other causes for mild eye infections include viruses, bacteria, fungus, allergies, and other irritants. Common causes of more serious infections include ocular histoplasmosis, sexually transmitted infections, shingles, and inflammation of the cornea.

Ocular Histoplasmosis

Ocular histoplasmosis is a fungal infection of the lungs that can travel to the eyes. This is commonly contracted in the United States; approximately 90 % of individuals living in the southeastern United States have developed this specific type of infection.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as Chlamydia, gonorrhea, or herpes can cause infections and visual damage. The infection can get into the eye through genital fluids or if the eyes are rubbed after handling infected genital areas.

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Shingles are a chronic, reoccurring infection that causes chickenpox. After touching an open sore then touching the eye, the infection can move into the eye. Over 50 % of people who have singles will have an eye infection as a result of the infection.

Other Causes

Other causes of eye infections are:

  • Lyme disease
  • Crab lice
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Allergies
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Acanthamoea.


Unfortunately, there is no specific list of symptoms for eye infections. The symptoms vary based on the cause of the infection, which part of the eye is infected, the severity, and the reaction in the individual. Common symptoms of conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, are redness, crusting of the eyelid, itching, and discharge. For viral cases of conjunctivitis, the discharge is watery or mucous-like and with bacterial conjunctivitis, the discharge is thicker and can be green, yellow, or white in color.

Common symptoms of bacterial infections, or keratitis, include:Eye Infections

  • pain
  • itching
  • redness
  • a yellow discharge
  • swollen eyelids
  • constant, involuntary blinking

General symptoms of eye infections may include excessive tearing, redness, swelling, pain, itching, a feeling of sand in the eye, a discharge, or crusting around the eye.

Often, one can have a mild eye infection that may cause no pain or redness. These are difficult to diagnose and can damage the retina, blood vessels, or optic nerve within the eye if gone untreated.


The most important step you can take in preventing eye infections is to always wash your hands. This will kill any harmful bacteria or viruses you come into contact with on a daily basis. If you know someone has an eye infection, do not share bedding, towels, or pillows as these items may have become contaminated with the infection.

It is best to never share cosmetics such as eyeliner, mascara, or eye shadows as they can be exposed to infectious materials easily. Once the eye infection is diagnosed, dispose of any contacts that may have been exposed to the infection in addition to any eye makeup. Do not wear contacts or eye makeup until the infection has cleared from the eye completely. Additionally, avoid swimming in chlorine when you have an eye infection. The chlorine can further irritate the eye and render medications ineffective.


Diagnosis for eye infections can vary based on the cause of the infection. Often for bacterial infections, a swab of will be taken to identify the bacteria and the best treatment options. Viral cultures may be collected and tested, especially if the infection is seen in clusters throughout the eye. A doctor may do a conjunctival scrape in order to detect fungal infections or infections based on common STIs such as Chlamydia.


Treatment for eye infections vary based on the type and severity of the infection. Typically, eye doctors will not prescribe medications for viral eye infections unless it has progressed into a worrisome state. Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics, which are the most commonly prescribed treatment for eye infections. For bacterial infections and some fungal infections of the eye, a physician may prescribe antibiotic eye ointments or drops.

Bacterial infections such as blepharitis, an inflammation surrounding the eyelid, require a topical antibiotic and a low-dosage topical corticosteroid. Styes, or small, painful lumps that occur on the upper and lower eyelid may require surgical procedures. Styes are caused by blockages of one of more of the oil-producing glands in the eyelid. An eye doctor may need to make an incision and drain the stye if treatments such as antibiotics and steroid drug injections prove to be ineffective.

Over-the-counter treatments are also available and are quite effective in treating infections caused by allergies. Antihistamines and artificial tears eye drops help to reduce debris in the eye and soothe any irritation. These over-the-counter are found at most supermarkets, drug stores, and pharmacies.

Side Effects

The side effects for medications such as steroids and antibiotic ointment and drops include redness, irritation, burning, stinging, nausea, fatigue, and mild itching. Over-the-counter treatments typically have fewer side effects, which include burning, stinging, redness, and irritation.

Home Remedies

Home remedies can be an easy, inexpensive, and effective solution to reducing the symptoms and curing uncomfortable eye infections. These remedies work best for infections caused by debris or allergies, but can also work with viral and bacterial infections.

Boric Acid

Boric acid, a weak and water-soluble acid, is easily found in supermarkets or drug stores. Occurring naturally in many fruits, vegetables, and other plants, boric acid serves as an antifungal, antiseptic, and eyewash. While boric acid is an acid, it is extremely mild and little side effects have been reported. A slight stinging or burning may occur with use.

Do not use Boric acid ophthalmic if you are allergic to boric acid. Also avoid indigestion or use near open wounds.


Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce the body of free radicals and stimulate the immune system help to fight infection. Boil a half-cup of water and add an ounce of bruised flaxseed. Allow the mixture to steep for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the excess water and place the warm flaxseed onto a clean washcloth, cotton square, or piece of cheesecloth and apply directly to the eye. You can repeat this process up to 3 times a day until symptoms are gone.

The flaxseed works to reduce inflammation and soothe the pain in the eye. Do not use this remedy if you are pregnant. There have not been enough studies to show the effects of flaxseed on the fetus.


Tea bags can work to soothe the eye and reduce redness and swelling. Typically, black tea is used but other types of tea such as green or white may be used. Start by boiling the tea bags in hot water. Allow the bags to cool and place one bag the affected eye for 10 to 15 minutes. You can use the tea made by the bags and water as an eyewash and wash your eye out in the lukewarm mixture before applying the teabag compress.

Repeat up to 3 times a day until bothersome symptoms of the infection are gone. Some people have reported a slight burning or stinging associated with using tea as an eyewash. If this occurs, stop immediately stop using the tea to clean the eye.


Chamomile is known for its soothing and calmative properties. Boil 2 chamomile teabags with 3 cups of water. Allow to cool and apply the chamomile tea to the eye – with freshly washed hands – 3 to 4 times a day. You can also dip a clean washcloth in the tea and apply to the eye as a compress for 15 minutes.

This will help to reduce redness and irritation associated with the eye infection. Some burning, stinging, and redness has been reported with the use of this remedy. Cases were mild and lasted shortly. If these side effects persist or are too bothersome, do not continue to use this cure.


Honey has many antibacterial properties and can help to kill the harmful bacteria in the eye. There are several different ways honey can be used to treat eye infections. The first way is to mix equal parts honey with boiled water. Mix the honey and water thoroughly and allow to cool. Using a clean washcloth or cotton balls, apply the solution to the eye. You can use the cloth of cotton balls as a compress and leave on the eye for 15 minutes.

This solution can be used as eye drops or an effective eyewash; simply use 2 to 3 times a day until symptoms have cleared. Another great way to use honey to treat eye infections is to boil 3 cups of water with a few eyebright flowers, which can be purchased at local health food stores. Add 3 tablespoons of honey to the water and eyebright and stir. Allow to cool and apply to the eye with a clean washcloth or cotton balls.

This mixture can also be used as an eyewash. The final way to use honey to help reduce eye infections is to apply a small amount of honey directly to the eye. Do not dilute the honey; applied directly to the eyes, the honey binds to any dirt, debris, or discharge in the eye, cleaning the eye safely and effectively through natural tearing.


Jasmine flowers mixed with boiled or distilled water reduce inflammation, redness, and irritation associated with eye infections. Simply fill a clean glass jar with boiled or distilled water and 8 to 10 jasmine flowers. Cover the jar and allow it to sit over night. In the morning, gently stir the mixture and apply to the eye with an eyedropper 1 to 3 times a day for 3 days. After applying the jasmine water eye drops, you can soak a clean wash cloth or cotton balls in witch hazel and apply to the eye as a compress. Set on the eye for 15 to 20 minutes.

Baby Shampoo

Another home remedy requires you to simply dilute a small amount of tearless baby shampoo in water. Using a clean washcloth or cotton balls, gently apply the mixture to the eye and eyelids. This helps to clean out any debris in or around the eye. For best results, wash eyes with the baby shampoo mixture twice a week.

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  • Reply Erica

    I have read that boric acid is a dangerous chemical. Please specify why you think this is not harmful for the body.

  • Reply admin

    Almost *everything* is harmful to the body when taken in excess.

    Here is an article about the relative toxicity of boric acid when compared against table salt

    Short term limited use generally should not pose a huge risk, however longterm use and/or repeated use by infants and/or use while pregnant is not recommended.

  • Reply Motherberry

    The same .gov web site sited for boric acid poisoning also recommends boric acid to be used in many treatments.
    The site is an encyclopedia. If you are concerned about using boric acid/boron, see your physician or use honey as an alternative.

  • Reply Laura

    how do you treat eye allergies

  • Reply Jodi

    I have an eye infection and was told to make a solution of comfrey tea and put it in my infected eye, is this going to be as effective as the above suggested treatments?

  • Reply NettieB

    Anyone heard of using Golden Seal in the same manner as the flaxseed or a tea bag?

  • Reply sridhar

    nice it will be helpful for me

  • Reply Beverly Heckford

    What about using fish oil?

  • Reply John Mathis

    Golden Seal is a root which has healing properties when used in various compounds, or as a tea, or orally. It is usually recommended to be used sparingly, as it can be upsetting to the body system. It can be found in most health food stores, pharmacies, and is effective in many types of infections. I recall there some caution to take with a meal. It is NOT a cure-all, but I have used it and find it effective for a variety of ills. PRAYER also is a great HELP.

  • Reply John Mathis

    NOT all fish oil is created equal. COLD water fish oil appears to have the best properties for Omega-3, and should say ON THE LABLE that it is mercury FREE. These oils are great for many conditions, including infections, eye health, HEART and circulatory systems, and vitamin E, in particular, is fantastic to reduce or prevent formation of scar tissue. IT TAKES TIME. Also, it appears to be interactive, meaning it works best if ALL the Omega oils are together. Vitamin E, should be in a completed form, as a compound of all the d-tocopherals.Great for vision care, muscular development, and it may have some purgative property. I used it to reduce and repair OLD scars, most of which have disappeared, even though 20+ years old. See a nutritionist or Health Food specialist for specific applications. It works when used appropriately.

    • Reply Stephanie

      I’ve used raw milk from my goats and my friend used her own milk to clear up pinkeye in 2 days. No antibiotics steroids or other created chemicals. I’m sold on this remedy.

  • Reply John Mathis

    BORIC acid was widely used as eye wash for decades, if not thousands of years. As with anything you put into or ON the body,you need to use some caution and LEARN about the uses. My maternal grandfather, a pharmacist for about 70 years, sold the products, in a blue or purple bottle, that came with a Eye Bath appliance, into which you put a specified amount of the boric acid, diluted with water, usually. Then the CUP was placed over the eye, and you put your head into an upright or reclining position. See a pharmacist that is knowledgeable of these.

  • Reply Dorothy Cosh

    I have continual eye infection – right eye much worse. I have used every remedy known and it doesn’t get any better. Eye Dr. has prescribed drops that cost over $100. It helps for a few days. I hot pack, applied neomycin with steroids, but have been told it can cause glaucoma, baby shampoo, foam cleaner. It burns and bothers my sight a lot.

    • Reply Jeff

      Have you considered the source of the infection? If it’s bacterial, it could be reinfecting, reinforcing from external sources on a daily basis. Like via your pillow case. Maybe you’re washing with contaminated stuff.
      Maybe you have a habit of cleaning the sleep out of your eyes when you wake up…
      A corneal abrasion can break apart every morning when you first open your eyes, which can encourage infections.
      See what you can do to analyze your life outside of the doctor’s office to come up with ways to protect your eye and give it a chance to heal.

  • Reply Honey

    Is the honey effective I put it in boiling water and did a rinse once with it my eye did have a burning sensation when I used it but was good for a hour or two but now it is red and inflamed continue to use it??? Have you tried this or know anyone that has???

  • Reply Lilliana

    I have a horrible eye infection right now, and I just wish that it would go away! I am 13, and I have soccer tomorrow. Last night, my right eye was itchy and had goey things coming out of it, this morning, both of my eyes were sealed shut with dried up buger things. It took a while to pull of the crustys and open my eyes. My right eye was swollen and the eye ball was red with lots of blood vessels. And my left eye was just like the right eye had been the night before. My eyes hurt! This is interfering with my life! The first soccer meet is tomorow night. I hate eye infections
    P.s. (That is not my real name and what not)

  • Reply Cat


    Make sure you have PURE HONEY. Some of the honey you buy in stores is a “honey sauce” which is honey mixed with some other thing like corn syrup.
    Hope that might help.

  • Reply marwa

    i have a minor eye infection right now but i dont want it to get worse but at the same time i hate glasses im cnfused and i dont know what to do..

  • Reply allenia

    i have a horible eye infection now and i want it to go away.wokeup this morning and it ached right eye is all red and tears keep comingout.mum just applied eye drops but it still aches..i cant even blink.please i need ya help.i have school test tomorow

  • Reply Emma

    Please Help! Has anyone ever experienced major swelling of the eyelid and underneath the bottom eyelid all the was to the upper cheek area? my eye inside is not red burning, and its not itching. wandering what this is? or if I should take an oral antibiotic for it?

  • Reply AJ Chavis

    Try Visine-A……not just any Visine…must have the -A after it. It has Boric Acid and other ingredients that can help with allergy, infection from bacteria, etc. it will begin to help from first Application. It may have to go through a dry scaly process to heal if it is swollen red, and inflamed….hope you have good results!


    Thank you so much. I am using Plantago Major to treat the sore on my brother’s under-foot. It is healing but very slow. How can I speed up the healing process?
    I am diabetic and my eyes are dim. I cant look further than my arm. Would honey help?

  • Reply Gemma

    How many times per day can/should the pure honey drops be applied?

  • Reply Cathy Rsymond

    You did not mention colloidal silver in treatment of infection of the eye. Is this something you may recommend too? I have heard there are many benefits to its use for numerous ailments.

  • Reply Shoni

    I have a eye problem more then 5 years when I using laptop or tv consistently 3 to 4 hours my eye is infected always same happened normally morning time I can’t open eye so many drops used homeopathic & alopatich if I am using that’s fine but not completely relief eye surgen said your eye is ok but eye lashes inside infection lashes effect your eyes I seen blury but my eye sight is fine also eye is sensitive room gas or electric heating or air bus inside as well thanks for any suggest me I really really feel upset

  • Reply venkanna

    my name is venkanna i have infection i visited vasavi eye keer,sharath give me any suggestion please onedoneall

  • Reply shanmukha

    my name is shanmukha. i have been suffering with recursive viral keratitis for four years . i went to many hospitals but no use. when i used drops it is ok but when i stoped using it or reduce the dossage it will increase again. please help me.

  • Reply Austin Josephs

    I fell victim to using Clear Eyes often and long term as I suffer from constant allergies, as well as enjoy smoking cannabis… Would have been nice to see a warning label on the bottle. Anyway Im hoping it isnt true, but I might be suffering from the long-term side affects of this chemical in my eye. Its like Pink Eye without crusting or other bodily symptoms. Feels like there is something in it and irritated, red and swollen, sometimes coming and going a bit but almost always at least “kind of” red… Im planning on trying many treatments suggested on this site, as well as other supplements good for eye health… Any other thoughts or suggestions?? I really hope this isnt permanent!!

  • Reply Karim

    How can I minimize light allergy, it’s so painful
    I can’t use my phone for more than an hour without experiencing pain and itching

  • Reply aleck

    Hi I have been diagnosed with a viral infection in one eye. Please advise how to get rid of it naturally. Will Bilberry 10000 and spraying Colloidal Silver on it get rid of it?
    Thanks ALeck

  • Reply natasha

    i have a lump in corner of eye . tried honey but not working, homeopathic didn’t work or polysporin. anyone know what infection it is when it;s the corner o the eye you know the fleshy part………..

  • Reply Kimberly

    Natasha, it could be a Charlaztiom (spelling is off) look it up. I had one before, I had a lump in the corner of my right eye.. Closest to my nose. I used apple cidar vinegar mixed with warm water. Put it in a small cup and put your eye to the rim of the cup and blink, so the water and apple cidar vinegar mixture can flush in/out your eye. Also try taking at least a tablespoon of pure apple cidar vinegar once a day by mouth. It’s known for natural antifungal properties as well as healing. Hope this helps some of you! I didn’t see it mentioned, but it really helped me. I did it twice a day. Also warm black tea bags applied like a compress will help.

  • Reply Yona

    Sounds crazy, but consider rinsing your eye with your own urine. It’s part of ayurveda – Google Amoroli. That’s been the most effective treatment for me. Just use the midstream (so not the first or last few seconds)

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