Vision obstructed by an infection is scary. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, increasingly hard-to-kill staph infections are becoming more commonplace--partly due to the over-prescribing of antibiotics, and partly from people's tendency to stop taking antibiotics when symptoms clear up. Most staph infections of the eye respond very well to treatment, so follow your doctor's orders.
What Is a Staph Infection?
Staph (pronounced staff) is short for Staphylococcus aureus, a kind of bacteria that occur naturally in your nose and mouth, on your skin and around your genital and rectal areas. Between 20 percent and 25 percent of the population are long-term carriers. A staph eye infection occurs when this bacteria enter the body through a small cut or tear in the skin, or lodges in an eyelash follicle.
How Did it Get In My Eye?
The most common means of infection is rubbing your eye with a contaminated hand. You can also contract a staph eye infection by sharing eye makeup, towels or bed linens with an infected person, and through physical contact.
Common symptoms of a staph eye infection are pain, redness, swelling, a "gritty" feeling in your eye and sometimes a sticky discharge--especially the first thing in the morning.
Your doctor can figure out whether or not you have a staph infection by swabbing the infection and having the swab analyzed. This is called taking a culture.
Antibiotics are needed to kill a staph infection. Depending on the severity of the infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics in the form of pills, ointments, drops or some combination of those forms. It's absolutely crucial that you take the full course of medication, even if the symptoms disappear. If you stop too soon, instead of killing the bacteria you may help it mutate into a stronger strain.