The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that while fungal eye infections are extremely rare, they can be very serious and can be caused by many different types of fungi. The following information is sourced from the CDC’s website.
Types of infections
Fungal infections can affect different parts of the eye.
- Keratitis is an infection of the clear, front layer of the eye (the cornea).
- Endophthalmitis is an infection of the inside of the eye (the vitreous and/or aqueous humor). There are two types of endophthalmitis: exogenous and endogenous.
Types of fungi that cause eye infections
While there are many different types of fungi that can cause eye infections, common types include:
- Fusarium – a fungus that lives in the environment, especially in soil and on plants
- Aspergillus – a common fungus that lives in indoor and outdoor environments.
- Candida – a type of yeast that normally lives on human skin and on the protective lining inside the body called the mucous membrane
In people who have had exposures that put them at risk for fungal eye infections, the symptoms of a fungal eye infection can appear anywhere from several days to several weeks after the fungi enter the eye. Symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other types of eye infections (such as those caused by bacteria) and can include:
- Eye pain
- Eye redness
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Excessive tearing
- Eye discharge
Who gets fungal eye infections?
Anyone can get a fungal eye infection, but these infections usually are linked to one of these situations:
- Eye injury, particularly with plant material
- Eye surgery
- Chronic eye disease involving the surface of the eye
- Wearing contact lenses
- Exposure to contaminated medical products that come in contact with the eye
- Fungal bloodstream infection