Eye infections are quite common these days. It occurs when the surface or interior of the eye is attacked due to viruses, like bacteria, parasites, and fungi.
Optometrists can diagnose an eye infection by inspecting the appearance of the surface of the eye and retina, the progress of the disease, and the patient’s medical history. Tests are conducted with the help of a device that eliminates light and inspects the cornea and retina. In the case of pus or other discharge from the eye, a culture test would be recommended to identify the organism causing it. To rule out possibilities of other underlying conditions, tests for common diseases, like chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes simplex is advised.
The physician with the help of the sample taken, assess the exact type of infection. It also helps determine the best effective treatment, such as an antibiotic, which targets the type of bacteria that is causing the infection. Self-diagnosis can delay effective treatment and potentially harm the vision.
Additionally, it is advised to avoid wearing contact lenses until the physical diagnosis and treatment of the infection. When there are recurring eye problems along with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, changes in the size of the pupil, injury, eye pain, altered vision, discharge from the eye, or severe redness, medical attention is needed to diagnose its cause.
Ophthalmologists conduct two methods of diagnosis, namely in vivo and in vitro for an eye infection. The success rate and accurateness of the diagnosis depend upon the expertise of the microbiologists along with the facilities available. At present, there are a large number of conventional and molecular techniques available. They help provide rapid diagnosis and also have the potential to bring to an unknown organism into light.
Rapid diagnosis of a viral infection is established by observing stained smears from corneal scrapings, conjunctival swaps or deposits of aqueous fluids. These techniques help in visualizing multinucleated giant cells, intra-nuclear intrusions and other inflammatory cells that are usually lymphocytes predominant.
Confocal microscopy is a non-invasive technique that magnifies images to high resolution and increases image contrast. This allows details of the cornea to be visualized even when hazy. This aids in diagnosis, management, and follow up of cases with bacterial keratitis.
Specific therapy of ocular or eye infection requires etiological diagnosis. It is a combined effect of observation of clinical features and microbiological investigations. A clinical impression helps the laboratory investigation and aim to rule out the diagnosis. Sometimes, these clinical features may vary considerably. In addition, there could be other factors that cause the infection, such as racial, geographical and climatic factors.