Infectious Eye Disease and Inflammation

What are infectious eye diseases?

Infectious and inflammatory eye disease may be the result of bacterial, fungal or environmental factors. Infectious eye disease can affect the eyelid and the area around the eye, or it may affect the cornea, the inside of the eyeball, or the conjunctiva, which lines the insides of the eyelids and sclera (white of the eye).

Types of infectious and inflammatory eye disease

Inflammatory eye disease refers to a disease that causes symptoms such as redness, swelling, blurred vision, pain or infection in any part of the eye area. Some eye diseases can be contracted through the air or can pass from one person to another, or by way of an object an infected person has touched.

Here are some of the most common types of inflammatory eye disease:

  • Blepharitis – An eye condition in which the oil glands at the base of the eyelashes become clogged. This leads to itching and redness, and often visibly scaly skin on the eyelids. Blepharitis is not contagious.
  • Chalazion – A hardened bump on the eyelid due to blockage of an oil gland. A chalazion may come about as the result of a stye that doesn’t get drained. Generally, a chalazion does not hurt and is not the result of infection, nor is it contagious. It may grow to the size of a pea.
  • Conjunctivitis – A highly contagious condition also known as "pink eye." It is called pink eye because the blood vessels in the white of the eye become more visible and "red" when inflamed. Conjunctivitis can be viral or bacterial, or is sometimes caused by allergens or chemicals, such as chlorine from a swimming pool.
  • Scleritis – An infection of the white of the eye (the sclera). Often associated with other types of disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, scleritis is a painful condition that causes extreme redness, sometimes purpling, of the white of the eye.
  • Stye – A stye is an infection that starts as a small bump usually along the rim of the eyelid. As the bump gets bigger and fills with pus, it usually "bursts" on its own and then begins to heal. Styes are caused by staphylococcus (staph) infection spread by unclean fingers and hands.
  • Uveitis – An inflammatory eye disease that is often associated with other types of disease. It affects the uvea, or the middle eye, causing "internal" inflammation. It is a serious condition that can cause blindness or loss of vision if left untreated.

Diabetic retinopathy is another type of inflammatory eye disease.


Treatments for eye diseases vary depending on the cause and diagnosis. Some eye problems can be treated at home while others require expert care.

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