• Can toenail fungus cause a fungal infection in the eye?


    Question:

    Can toenail fungus cause a fungal infection in the eye if you get a toenail clipping in your eye?


    Answer:

    Introduction of bacteria, fungi, and viruses can all cause corneal infections if they are able to bypass the initial defenses of the corneal epithelium (the outermost layer of the cornea). The epithelium can be compromised in many situations, including severe dry eyes, a corneal abrasion, or contact lenses,. The corneal epithelial cells are bound together very tightly to help prevent foreign organisms from gaining access to the deeper parts of the cornea. In addition, our tear film contains protective enzymes that help break down organisms before they cause trouble.

    In other words, generally, exposure to a foreign organism alone is not enough to cause a corneal infection, but the eye's natural defenses would also need to be compromised. However, if you do have an exposure of your eye to bacteria or fungi, you should see your ophthalmologist to confirm that your eye is not at risk.


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