Bacterial eye infections can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant, often causing redness, tearing, and drainage in the eyes.
What makes these types of eye infections even worse is the fact that they can be highly contagious, which means that if one person in a family has an infection, it’s likely that other family members will catch it as well.
In order to treat bacterial eye infections, your ophthalmologist may recommend antibiotic eye drops.
Antibiotic eye drops contain medications that help fight the bacteria that entered the eye and caused the infection.
The most common bacterial eye infections include:
- Bacterial conjunctivitis. This type of bacterial infection is largely spread especially among kids in school and it can spread easily from person to person. Symptoms include inflammation of the conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that lines the eyelids), redness, itching, a burning sensation in the eyes, blurred vision, and excessive tearing.
- Contact-lens related eye infections can also be caused by bacteria. Sleeping in contacts or wearing them for too long without proper care can create an environment that is favorable to bacterial growth.
Antibiotic eye drops work by preventing bacterial growth and killing off any existing bacteria.
Depending on the severity of your infection, you may need to use these drops for 2 to 5 days.
Do not use them for more than 5 days, unless your doctor specifically tells you to.
When it comes to treating other common eye issues such as viral or allergic conjunctivitis, dry eyes, glaucoma, corneal abrasions, or cataracts, antibiotic drops will not be effective and, in some cases, can even worsen the condition.
Different eye conditions require different treatments depending on their cause and severity. For example, redness and irritation due to dry eyes may be helped with artificial tears whereas glaucoma requires prescription eye drops that lower the pressure in the eye.
In short, antibiotic drops should only be used for eye infections caused by bacteria and nothing else.
- Be sure to use the exact eye drop prescribed by your doctor. Don’t substitute a different one or apply them for longer than recommended. Even if you’re feeling better, continue taking the full course of medication as prescribed for best results.
- It’s important not to store any unused antibiotics. Always check the expiry date before using and dispose of any unused eye drops after they have expired.
- Keep all medications out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental ingestion.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before and after using eye drops and be sure not to touch the dropper tip directly against your eyes or other surfaces since it can contaminate the medication.
- If you are also taking other medications, be sure to discuss this with your doctor, as some medications may interact with antibiotic eye drops.
If you believe you may have an eye infection, it is important to get checked out by a doctor before using any type of treatment. Your ophthalmologist will diagnose your condition and recommend a suitable course of action such as antibiotic eye drops if needed.