With review and feedback from CEENTA Ophthalmologist Ernest Bhend, MD (Fort Mill)

For years, the opioid crisis has been a severe health problem in the United States. One of the issues related to the crisis that people might not be aware of is an increased risk for eye infections.

Opioid abuse

The opioid epidemic began with people abusing prescription painkillers. Although stricter regulations were enacted in 2010, many addicts turned to drugs they could inject with needles. At the same time, doctors noticed a sharp increase in rare but serious eye infections, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Endogenous endophthalmitis

Endogenous endophthalmitis is a condition in which the eye is infected after bacteria or fungi enter another part of the body and travels to the eye. With opioid addicts, it happens at the injection site.

What are the symptoms of these eye infections?

The most common symptoms of endogenous endophthalmitis are pain, redness, light sensitivity, tearing, new floaters, and vision loss. If left untreated, it can spread to the retina and cause permanent vision damage.

How are these eye infections treated?

Ernest Bhend, MD“If vision changes or pain develops in this situation, the eye needs to be checked as soon as possible," CEENTA Ophthalmologist Ernest Bhend, MD, said. "Endophthalmitis can cause irreversible vision loss very quickly.”

If you do have endogenous endophthalmitis, your doctor will treat it with antibiotic or antifungal injections. Steroids may be needed for swelling or inflammation.

If you have been taking opioids, please tell your doctor so they can properly treat you. They are more concerned with your health than with getting you in trouble. Once your eyes are healthy, they will provide resources you can use to finally beat your opioid addiction.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with Dr. Bhend or any of our eye doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.


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