Information for Patients
Bacteria are living things that have only one cell. Under a microscope, they look like balls, rods, or spirals. They are so small that a line of 1,000 could fit across a pencil eraser. Most bacteria won't hurt you - less than 1 percent of the different types make people sick. Many are helpful. Some bacteria help to digest food, destroy disease-causing cells, and give the body needed vitamins. Bacteria are also used in making healthy foods like yogurt and cheese.
But infectious bacteria can make you ill. They reproduce quickly in your body. Many give off chemicals called toxins, which can damage tissue and make you sick. Examples of bacteria that cause infections include Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli.
Antibiotics are the usual treatment. When you take antibiotics, follow the directions carefully. Each time you take antibiotics, you increase the chances that bacteria in your body will learn to resist them causing antibiotic resistance. Later, you could get or spread an infection that those antibiotics cannot cure.
Your eyes can get infections from bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Eye infections can occur in different parts of the eye and can affect just one eye or both. Two common eye infections are
- Conjunctivitis - also known as pinkeye. Conjunctivitis is often due to an infection. Children frequently get it, and it is very contagious.
- Stye - a bump on the eyelid that happens when bacteria from your skin get into the hair follicle of an eyelash.
Symptoms of eye infections may include redness, itching, swelling, discharge, pain, or problems with vision. Treatment depends on the cause of the infection and may include compresses, eye drops, creams, or antibiotics.
Your eyelids help protect your eyes. When you blink, your eyelids spread moisture over your eyes. Blinking also helps move dirt or other particles off the surface of the eye. You close your eyelids when you see something coming toward your eyes. This can help protect against injuries.
Like most other parts of your body, your eyelids can get infected, inflamed, or even develop cancer. There are also specific eyelid problems, including
- Eyelids that turn in or out
- Eyelids that droop
- Abnormal blinking or twitching
Treatment of eyelid problems depends on the cause.