How Do Germs Get in Your Eyes?

Dry Eyes

Did you know around 1,000 species of bacteria—plus viruses and other germs—call your skin home? This microscopic ecosystem, known as skin flora, is largely beneficial. However, some germs can cause infections or diseases, especially if they get into your eyes.

No one wants an eye infection. Many infections share similar symptoms, whether caused by bacteria or viruses, including eye discharge and crusting of the eyelid, redness, swelling, excessive tear production, itching, burning, and feeling like something is in your eye. If you’re worried about infections, learn how germs get in your eyes and what steps you can take to prevent this.

Rubbing Your Eyes is a Major Factor

You probably rub your eyes multiple times a day without even thinking about it, especially if you’re tired or have eye allergies. Unfortunately, touching your eyes is an easy way for germs to get in. After all, your hands are a breeding ground and transportation method for microorganisms.

Picture a sick person wiping their nose and then touching a doorknob. A few minutes later, you touch that same doorknob. Then, you rub your eyes. It’s not hard to see why this is a primary way germs get in your eyes.

How to Protect Your Eyes from Germs

Your eyes are more vulnerable to infection-causing bacteria and viruses than your skin, but they aren’t completely defenseless. Your eyelashes do a great job of keeping irritants out. So does blinking, which coats your eyes in a fresh layer of protective tears. Unfortunately, these defenses can be undone if you don’t take steps to protect your eyes from germs. Here’s what to do:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially right before putting in your contacts or taking them out.
  • Keep your nails trimmed to prevent germs from collecting there and transferring to your eyes when you touch them.
  • Clean high-touch surfaces often, including doorknobs, faucet handles, countertops, light switches, remote controls, keyboards, and your cell phone.
  • Frequently wash items that touch your face, including towels, washcloths, and linens.
  • Don’t share items that touch your face or eyes, including makeup brushes, contact lens cases, and eye drops.
  • Protect your eyes from external contaminants by wearing goggles or safety glasses when working in hazardous conditions or around chemicals.
  • Take out your contacts before sleeping to avoid trapping contaminants in your eyes and depriving them of oxygen.

Worried about Eye Infections?

If you develop symptoms of an eye infection, call Spindel Eye Associates for tips on what to do next. Our eye specialists will probably suggest applying a cold compress to reduce the swelling and using artificial tears to combat dryness. Plan to stop wearing contact lenses until the infection clears up as well. If your symptoms don’t improve within two to five days, you may benefit from taking prescription antibiotics. For more information or to schedule an appointment in Derry, Londonderry, Windham, or Raymond NH, please call 603.421.6536 or contact us online.