Eye infections


Eye infection describes a moderate to severe infection, which can be caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses and causes superficial or intraocular inflammation. Common eye infections are:

  • Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva)
  • Corneal inflammation
  • Iritis (inflammation of the iritis)

The inflammation of the conjunctiva (conjunctivitis) is the most common inflammatory disease of the eyes. Infectious conjunctivitis (bacterial, viral, parasitic) is distinguished from non-infectious conjunctivitis, which is allergic, autoimmune, toxic or irritant.

Conjunctivitis typically manifests itself by red, itchy, burning, watery and festering eyes and the sensation of foreign bodies in the eye. In most cases, conjunctivitis subsides within a few days. However, it must be clarified that it is not a symptom of a serious underlying disease. .

The inflammation of the cornea (keratitis)

Although corneal inflammation as a form of eye infection is more dangerous than conjunctivitis, it is also less common. Corneal inflammation causes changes in the normally transparent and smooth surface of the cornea (cornea). This can be caused by bacteria (e.g. by wearing contact lenses for too long), but it can also be viral (especially by herpes viruses) or caused by other factors. Red eyes, burning sensation, pain in the eye and a foreign body sensation often occur. In contrast to conjunctivitis, corneal inflammation can limit vision.

Iritis (inflammation of the iritis)

An inflammation of the iris alone as a form of eye infection is very rare. In most cases, there is a simultaneous inflammation of the other components of the middle eye skin, which is then called uveitis. The inflammation of the iris is mainly caused by bacteria (Chlamydia, Yersinia, Borrelia) and is not a direct eye infection, but rather an immunological response of the body to the pathogen. The actual infection therefore precedes the inflammation of the iris in the usual time. Clinically, iritis is characterized by a reddening of the iris, impaired vision, increased sensitivity to light and pain.

Chlamydia infection of the eye

Chlamydia are bacteria that can cause infections in different parts of the body depending on the subgroup. Chlamydia trachomatis can infect the eye and cause a so-called trachoma. A trachoma describes a chronic conjunctivitis, which can even lead to blindness if left untreated.

In Europe, this clinical picture is hardly seen any more. However, it occurs more frequently in developing countries – with 500 million people suffering from trachoma, it is the most common eye disease in the world. The initial symptoms are redness of the eye and secretion of pus.

A few days later, follicles form on the conjunctiva, which can become very large and burst open. After these follicles have burst open, scarred changes develop. As a result, the eyelid shrinks and contracts.

The lashes on the eyelid are thereby turned inwards (so-called entropion) and rub against the cornea. Over time, this leads to a destruction of the cornea and to a clouding of vision. For this reason, it is particularly important to treat a Chlamydia infection early on. In the early stages, antibiotic therapy with tetracyclines is recommended. In the late stage, the entropion can be treated surgically so that the cornea is not further damaged.