Endophthalmitis is an eye condition also called an "intraocular infection." Most often, endophthalmitis is a complication that occurs after eye surgery. This means that infectious microorganisms on the surgical equipment have entered the eyeball. Some symptoms of endophthalmitis may give you early warning signs. These symptoms include increasing eye pain, decreased visual acuity or extreme sensitivity to light. This article contains all the details about endophthalmitis: its causes, symptoms, and treatments.

What is endophthalmitis?

Endophthalmitis is a serious but relatively rare eye infection. It affects all the internal tissues of the eyeball. It can cause irreversible loss of vision if not treated quickly. This condition is considered a medical emergency. Indeed, the sooner endophthalmitis is treated, the better the chances of recovery.

An optometrist can detect endophthalmitis by observing the symptoms. A complete ophthalmologic examination will be performed if the symptoms are indeed those of endophthalmitis.

Postoperative endophthalmitis is one of the most feared nosocomial infections in health care facilities. This is precisely because it most often occurs following eye surgery. Nowadays, there are very few chances of contracting it, but it remains unpredictable.

Several types of endophthalmitis can be diagnosed. If eye inflammation occurs within seven days of surgery, it is called acute endophthalmitis. If the inflammation occurs between the 8th and 21st day after surgery, it is referred to as subacute. When the inflammation begins after 28 days, it becomes chronic endophthalmitis.

There are other types of endophthalmitis:

  • Bacterial endophthalmitis: When bacteria cause the infection
  • Fungal endophthalmitis: When fungi cause the infection
  • Mycotic endophthalmitis or candida endophthalmitis: When the infection is caused by candida which is a yeast-like fungus

What are the risks associated with endophthalmitis?

If endophthalmitis is not diagnosed and treated, the eyes are at risk for:

  • Functional loss
  • Irreversible disability

Consequently, treating endophthalmitis is essential. The surest way to quickly identify any eye problem is to make an appointment with an optometrist or ophthalmologist.

What causes endophthalmitis?

The most common causes of endophthalmitis are bacteria, such as streptococcus, staphylococcus, and enterococcus. Sometimes, endophthalmitis is caused by fungi or protozoa, but this is very rare.

These microorganisms cause the infection to develop, especially when they penetrate the eyeball. Surgical incisions and punctured eye injuries, for example, create a pathway for these microorganisms. Ocular wounds and cataract surgery are high-risk situations that can lead to endophthalmitis.

More rarely, these microorganisms can enter the eye through the bloodstream. This can happen because of a blood infection due to illnesses, skin diseases, or medical procedures (pneumonia, abscesses, dental surgery, etc.).

Factors that tend to cause endophthalmitis

The following factors can lead to endophthalmitis:

  • Eye infections that potentially cause damage to the eye, such as blepharitis and conjunctivitis.
  • The presence of an ocular implant such as a synthetic lens that corrects vision or replaces a damaged lens.
  • Diseases that cause a decrease in immune defences, such as diabetes.
  • The use of certain medications such as corticoids.

What are the warning symptoms of endophthalmitis?

There are many different symptoms, and not all cases of endophthalmitis are the same.
However, there are three main symptoms you should watch out for:

  • Eye pain gradually increases in intensity.
  • A blurred vision indicates a decrease in visual acuity.
  • An extreme sensitivity to light called photophobia.

Other symptoms caused by endophthalmitis that you should also look out for:

  • Endophthalmitis sometimes causes a red eye or eyelid swelling.
  • Endophthalmitis causes a loss of red fundus (on examination by the professional) visible ocular redness on the front surface of the eye around the cornea.
  • Endophthalmitis sometimes results in the formation of ocular secretions or pus.

If you experience general eye pain and also have:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • A high level of fatigue

Be careful! This may be a sign of an infection. Quickly make an appointment with an optometrist at your nearest IRIS store.

How to treat endophthalmitis?

Treatment must be administered urgently. This treatment will determine the prognosis of the endophthalmitis. Patients with endophthalmitis will receive antibiotics. These will be administered either orally, ocularly or intravenously.

For endophthalmitis caused by fungi, the person will receive antifungal treatment.

In addition, corticoids may be injected to complete the treatment.

The treatment period for endophthalmitis depends primarily on the prognosis. A vitrectomy will be considered if the patient's vision is severely affected by the infection. This operation consists of the surgical removal of the infected vitreous body. The vitreous body is the transparent, gelatinous substance that fills the eye's interior behind the lens.

This surgery aims to limit the loss of visual acuity. This procedure increases the chances of stopping the infection.

Remember that the best way to prevent endophthalmitis is to seek urgent medical attention if you have any doubts:

  • Following eye surgery
  • In case of a traumatic eye injury

If you think you have endophthalmitis, make an appointment now. When in doubt, remember that the health of your eyes is one of your most precious assets.

Your vision is your window to the world! That's why we're always there for you. And that's why we have been involved with IRIS Mundial since 2008. This organization provides voluntary ophthalmic services to improve the visual health of underprivileged and underserved people.

If you have any questions, visit your nearest IRIS store.