4 Things to Know About MRSA Eye Infections

by Dec 5, 2022

MRSA, or Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, is a well-known bacterium that is resistant to antibiotics in the penicillin family. This bacterium can infect different parts of the eyes including the eyelid, the tear gland, and the eyeball following surgery. Treating MRSA requires the use of special antibiotics which are effective against it and other resistant strains of bacteria.

What is MRSA?

MRSA is a name given to a species of bacteria that has developed antibiotic resistance to penicillin-type medications.

Staphylococcus aureus is the bacterium that is associated with MRSA and is a relatively common infectious agent.

Typically, however, the staph strains that cause infections are not resistant to penicillins or other antibiotics and can be treated with relative ease.

MRSA presents complications as the resistance to penicillins and other related antibiotics, such as cephalosporins, makes these infections more difficult to treat.

MRSA Eye Infections

The eye is susceptible to many different bacterial infections, including MRSA. The soft tissue of the eye and the eyelid make an excellent site for gram-positive bacteria like MRSA to cause infections.

If the infection occurs within the eyelid it can result in a hordeolum (stye) or lead to pre-septal cellulitis.

If the bacteria infect the tear gland above the eye, it is known as dacryoadenitis.

The most concerning type of bacterial infection occurs following surgery or a different kind of trauma to the eye and it is called endophthalmitis. Endophthalmitis is a bacterial infection of the inside of the eye itself.

Risks of MRSA Eye Infections

MRSA infections increase the risk of complications from the infection since the treatment options may be more limited.

While eyelid and lacrimal gland infections are generally confined to the front of the eye and can only spread so far, endophthalmitis is an infection that has direct access to the brain and cranial cavity.

If the MRSA infection spreads, it can be potentially life-threatening if meningitis or other brain infection develops.

Treatment for MRSA Infections of the Eye

MRSA infections will require the use of antibiotics that are stronger than what might otherwise be prescribed.

If it is not known if MRSA causes the infection, it will be up to the prescribing doctor to determine whether treatment should be initiated with the assumption that the infection is resistant to antibiotics or not. In these cases, a close follow-up is used to determine whether the treatment works.

However, if the infection is known to be caused by MRSA, there are antibiotics approved that are effective against MRSA.

Doxycycline pills can be prescribed for infections in the skin of the eyelid or the lacrimal gland.

Azithromycin pills or eye drops can be used for various MRSA infections including hordeolum and bacterial conjunctivitis that is suspected to be MRSA.

Bactrim tablets and clindamycin pills are both approved to be used in all types of MRSA eye infections including endophthalmitis.

However, if endophthalmitis occurs, it is recommended that an IV antibiotic that is fortified against MRSA be used as the primary treatment.


Dr. Nathan Abraham and the staff of the Abraham Eye Center specialize in cataract surgery, LASIK, PRK, and various corneal surgeries.  Call our ophthalmologist in Valencia, CA today at 661-977-7377 or schedule an appointment online if you are interested in MRSA.  Our eye doctor provides only the highest quality eye care and surgical services amongst eye doctors in the Valencia California area.

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