Endophthalmitis is an inflammation inside the eye caused by an infection. It is a serious condition that can lead to permanent, rapid loss of vision and ultimately, blindness.
The condition most commonly follows surgery in the eye or a penetrating wound of the eye. Infection within the eye caused by bacteria commonly occurs within 4 to 5 days of surgery or injury. Inflammation in the eye caused by a virus or fungus may have a more chronic course, so the diagnosis may be delayed.
The symptoms include: severe eye pain and rednessdecreased vision, or visual impairmentlight sensitivitya white collection of fluid in front of the iris, known as hypopyon
The main cause of endophthalmitis is bacterial infection in the eye following surgery where the eye is opened, such as in cataract surgery. The risk is 0.2%. Infection may also follow penetrating trauma to the structures inside the eye. It does not usually occur after superficial injury to the eye such as corneal abrasion.
Less frequently, infectious agents may enter the eye from the bloodstream, such as with herpes virus or candida yeast infection.
This condition usually cannot be prevented. When a person has had eye surgery or has received an injury to the eye, careful treatment and monitoring may decrease the risk of this type of secondary infection.
Endophthalmitis is suspected in any person who develops sudden pain and extreme redness of an eye following surgery or trauma to an eye. It is confirmed by looking at the eye with a microscope. The healthcare professional looks for large numbers of white blood cells in the front chamber of the eye, along with clouding of the cornea.
If untreated, the condition will result in permanent damage to the structures in the eye, including the retina. This can progress to a permanent decrease in vision and even blindness.
The bacteria, fungi, or virus that causes this secondary infection may be contagious. A person should practice good hand washing and launder towels and face cloths between uses.
Treatment is based on the underlying cause. If the infection is caused by bacteria, and this is confirmed by cultures in the laboratory, then appropriate antibiotics will be used. This usually involves surgery, antibiotic drops, pills, IV therapy, or a combination of all of these.
Injections of antibiotics may be made directly into the eye. When the cause is viral or fungal, then medications for these agents are given. Again, these could be topical, oral, or IV. Whatever the cause, therapy must be given as soon as possible in order to avoid the devastating consequences of these infections.
Side effects to the treatment depend on the treatment used. All medications can have side effects including stomach upset, rash, and allergic reaction.
After treatment, a person will need to watch for any recurrent symptoms and continue the medication as prescribed even if symptoms appear to be gone.
It is imperative to monitor for any further symptoms. A person should contact the healthcare professional if symptoms of redness, pain, swelling, discharge, or blurred vision appear.
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