Ocular bacterial infections

Ocular Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections of the eye, commonly referred to as ocular infections, affect people of all ages. Ocular infections lead to inflammation, pain, and vision changes. Most bacterial infections can be treated effectively with antibiotics, although some can be more severe and require surgical intervention.

Types of Ocular Bacterial Infections

The most common types of ocular bacterial infections are:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Keratitis
  • Endophthalmitis


The most common ocular bacterial infection is conjunctivitis, which is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin clear tissue that line the inner eyelid and cover the white of the eye. Conjunctivitis can be caused by bacterial, viral, or allergic triggers, with bacterial infections being the most common. If bacterial conjunctivitis is not treated, it can lead to blurred vision, eye irritation, and even damage to the cornea.


Keratitis is an infection of the cornea, the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye. Like conjunctivitis, keratitis can be caused by bacterial, viral, or allergic triggers. Keratitis can cause blurry vision, redness, pain, and light sensitivity. If left untreated, keratitis can lead to a loss of vision.


Endophthalmitis is an infection of the inner parts of the eyeball, specifically the vitreous humor of the eye. Endophthalmitis occurs when bacteria enter the eye through surgical wounds, trauma, or infection. It can cause vision loss and requires prompt diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics and/or surgery.


The most common symptoms of ocular bacterial infections include:

  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Tearing
  • Grainy eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Pain
  • Blurred or decreased vision

Diagnosis and Treatment

Ocular bacterial infections are typically diagnosed using a slit-lamp exam, in which an ophthalmologist examines the eyes with a microscope. Treatment of ocular bacterial infections depends on the type of infection and its severity. Generally, antibiotics and/or steroids are prescribed to reduce the inflammation and accelerate healing. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.