Eye infection

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Eye infection


​An eye infection may be caused by various reasons. One of the most common is conjunctivitis, which is brought on by a virus, bacteria or allergy.  Mild conjunctivitis often clears up on its own, but may need antibiotics if the symptoms continue for a longer period of time.

The conjunctiva is the outer, transparent membrane on the eye that covers the white of the eye (sclera).  Conjunctivitis may be caused by a virus, bacteria or fungus. Also an allergy, a foreign body in the eye, rubbing the eye, or dry eyes may trigger the infection.

Other eye infections include corneal inflammation, inflammation of the internal eye tissues, or orbital inflammation, all requiring medical assistance and treatment.​


​In case of bacterial conjunctivitis, the eye produces yellow, sticky and elastic discharge. Other symptoms may include redness and soreness of the eye. In the morning it may be difficult to open your eyes due to the crust of discharge that forms during the night. Your eye lids may be puffy. In a viral infection the discharge is often more watery and you may experience sensitivity to light.

Severe pain in the eye or sensitivity to light, swelling around the eye or impaired sight may be symptoms of a more serious eye infection.


​Mild conjunctivitis during a flu or cold usually heals on its own without antibiotics. Healing may be boosted by removing discharge by gently rinsing the eye. If the conjunctivitis is known to be caused by an allergy, over-the-counter antihistamines from a pharmacy will help.  Pharmacy staff will help you select the right product, if necessary.​

When should you seek medical advice?

​You should seek medical advice, if

  • the eye is painful, sensitive to light, the area around your eye is swollen, your vision is impaired or you are unwell.
  • the inflammation does not clear up on its own in a few days.
  • you have symptoms of an eye infection and suspect a chlamydia infection following unprotected intercourse.

To assess symptoms of an eye infection, you can do the symptom check on Omaolo webpage.  The questionnaire will help you to decide when and where you should seek medical advice.​

More information

The producers of the instruction

​​​​​Emergency care professionals have produced the instruction in collaboration with Terveyskirjasto.​


Updated  1.5.2021