Hand-to-eye contact most commonly causes Eye infections, when germs present on the fingers and hands enter the eye when the eyelids are rubbed or touched. Some eye infections can be caused by other types of contact, including being poked in the eye by an object or another person's finger, that cause tiny tears or abrasions in the surface portion of the eye called the cornea. And still other infections occur in individuals who wear contacts when they fail to clean their lenses properly. Eye infections can occur in many parts of the eye and eye area, including the cornea, eyelids and tear ducts.
Also called pinkeye, conjunctivitis is a very common type of eye infection that most commonly occurs when germs enter the eye after rubbing them. These bacteria infect the mucous membrane that covers the inner surface of the eyelid and the outer surface of the eye (the conjunctiva). Either bacteria or viruses can cause infections, and they are associated with itching and burning sensations, a yellowish or stringy discharge from the eye, and a pink or reddish coloration of the white part of the eye (the sclera). Conjunctivitis is highly contagious.
Infections of the eye can cause many different symptoms, including:
Most eye infections can be treated with eye drops, sometimes combined with oral medications to kill germs and relieve symptoms of itching and pain. Patients who wear contacts will probably need to switch to glasses while the infection is being treated to avoid irritating the eye or worsening the infection.
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