May Newsletter: Causes and Symptoms of Endophthalmitis

May Newsletter: Causes and Symptoms of Endophthalmitis

Blonde got something in her eye.

What Is Endophthalmitis?

Endophthalmitis is a type of infection that occurs inside your eye. The infection is a medical emergency and can cause permanent damage to your vision if not treated promptly.

About Endophthalmitis

Two kinds of endophthalmitis can affect your vision. Endogenous endophthalmitis begins when you have an infection that travels from another part of your body to your eye. This type is most often linked to sinus infections, liver abscesses, meningitis, endocarditis, or indwelling urinary catheters, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Sometimes endogenous endophthalmitis can happen even if bloodwork and other tests don't reveal any sign of infection.

Exogenous endophthalmitis, the most common type, occurs when bacteria or fungi find their way into your body. This can happen if a stick or another object punctures your eye or can occur if you have a corneal infection or after you've had medicine injected into your eye to treat an eye condition or disease.

Exogenous endophthalmitis can also occur after cataract surgery, corneal surgery, or other eye surgeries. Fortunately, most people recover from these surgeries without ever developing an infection.

Symptoms of acute exogenous endophthalmitis start within a few days or weeks after an injury or eye procedure. Endophthalmitis may occur in one or both eyes.

Endophthalmitis Symptoms

Symptoms of endophthalmitis include:

  • Eye Pain. Pain can be severe and may worsen as the infection progresses.
  • Discharge. You may see yellow or white pus inside the eyelid due to inflammation. Your eyelid may also swell.
  • Cloudy Cornea. The normally clear tissue over your iris or pupil may look white if you have endophthalmitis.
  • Floaters. Endophthalmitis may be the reason you're seeing floaters. The wispy strings drift in front of your eyes and are most noticeable when looking toward bright light. Floaters happen when fibers break off from the gel-like vitreous that gives your eyeball its shape.
  • Vision Changes. The infection inside your eye can make your vision look blurry. In some cases, endophthalmitis causes the retina, the light-sensing tissue in your eye, to detach from the back of the eye. If the retina detaches, you may notice a sudden increase in floaters, flashes of light, decreased side vision, or a dark spot in your vision. Retinal detachments require reattachment procedures to reduce your risk of permanent vision loss.
  • Redness. The whites of your eyes may become red as the infection worsens.
  • Light Sensitivity. Your eyes may hurt or feel uncomfortable in brightly lit environments.

Endophthalmitis Treatments

Call your ophthalmologist or go to the emergency room immediately if you suspect you might have endophthalmitis. The infection can cause blindness or may even require removal of the eye if it's not treated promptly.

You may need antibiotics, drugs that kill bacteria, or antifungals, drugs that kill fungi, if you are diagnosed with endophthalmitis. These medications may be applied to the surface of your eye, injected into your eye, or given intravenously (through a vein).

Surgery may be needed to remove a foreign object or the infected vitreous. The vitreous is replaced with saline solution, silicone oil, or a gas bubble during a surgical procedure called a vitrectomy.

Don't wait and see if your eye gets better on its own if you have any of these symptoms. Waiting too long for treatment can put your vision at risk. Contact our office immediately if you're concerned about your vision or go to the emergency room.


American Academy of Ophthalmology EyeNet Magazine: Endogenous Endophthalmitis: Diagnosis and Treatment, 6/2016

American Academy of Ophthalmology: What Is Endophthalmitis, 11/27/2023

American Society of Retinal Specialists: Endophthalmitis

Review of Ophthalmology: A Review of Postop Endophthalmitis, 4/10/2022

All About Vision: Endophthalmitis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments, 2/23/2021

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