The eyes are one of the most sensitive and delicate parts of the body. They are incredibly vulnerable to various external factors and microorganisms that can endanger their structure and function. So, it’s no surprise that parents are extra careful and diligent when it comes to their children’s eye care.
One of the most common diseases that your child can easily contract is an eye infection.
According to a 2021 study, infection is the second most common reason for eye-related pediatric visits to the emergency department in most urban settings. Most children and infants get at least one eye infection at some point.
Read on below to learn more about the various types of eye infections and how you might be able to prevent them.
What are the most common types of eye infections?
Eye infections are typically caused by bacteria and viruses which can easily spread from hand-to-eye contact or direct contact with contaminated objects. Newborns can also get infected through direct contact of the eye to the infected birth canal.
So if your child has a red, itchy, and inflamed eye, then there’s a chance that they may have an eye infection. Here are its most common types:
Conjunctivitis—or pink eye—refers to an infection of the conjunctiva or the clear, thin membrane that covers the sclera (white part of the eye) and lines the inside of the eyelids.
When infected, the tiny blood vessels of the conjunctiva will get inflamed, causing the white of the eye to turn red or pinkish. There are three major kinds of conjunctivitis:
Several families of bacteria can cause conjunctivitis in children, such as staphylococcus and streptococcus. Patients with bacterial conjunctivitis usually have a yellowish or greenish discharge from the infected eye/s.
Another contagious type of conjunctivitis, is caused by a virus. Typically, viruses that cause common colds, ear infections, sinusitis, and sore throats are also the ones responsible for causing pediatric pink eye.
This type of non-contagious conjunctivitis develops as a result of an allergic reaction to specific triggers, such as hay, grass, ragweed, and others. Some symptoms include itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, and an itchy and runny nose.
Most mild cases of conjunctivitis will clear on their own after three to seven days. Doctors may prescribe an antibiotic eye drop or ointment for bacterial conjunctivitis and an antihistamine for allergic pink eye.
Infection due to foreign object
Eye infections may also occur when a foreign object gets stuck in the eye, causing the conjunctiva to get irritated and inflamed. This is especially true when an irritant is not removed immediately from the eye. Some of its symptoms can include the following:
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Redness in the eye
- Scratchy feeling when blinking
- Blurred vision
- Pain or general discomfort
If there’s pain or discharge from the affected eye, it’s best to see an ophthalmologist immediately.
How to prevent eye infections in children?
The best way to prevent eye infections in children is to teach them the importance of proper handwashing. They should practice washing their hands with soap frequently and thoroughly, especially after going out in public. Children should avoid rubbing or touching their eyes with unwashed hands.
Furthermore, parents should maintain a clean home and environment for their children. Some best practices include disinfecting tables and countertops, washing the bed sheets and blankets regularly, and vacuuming the house.
Lastly, make sure that your children are vaccinated against common viral agents associated with conjunctivitis. Some examples include measles and chickenpox, as well as flu.
Where to find the best pediatric eye doctor in NJ?
Our doctors, Amy Lambert, MD, and Rachel Bloom, MD, are board-certified, fellowship trained pediatric ophthalmologists.
They are expert at meeting your children’s eye and vision needs. We pride ourselves on the results we achieve with our patients, and we believe the key is not just our medical expertise but also attitude and patience with the children.
Our goal is “to provide the highest quality eye care for children in a setting that is comfortable and reassuring.”
Contact us now to get in touch with one of our board-certified pediatric eye doctors.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.