Itching - burning eyes; Burning eyes
Eye burning with discharge is burning, itching, or drainage from the eye of any substance other than tears.
Causes may include:
Apply cool compresses to soothe itching.
Apply warm compress to soften crusts if they have formed. Washing the eyelids with baby shampoo on a cotton applicator can also help remove crusts.
Using artificial tears 4 to 6 times a day can be helpful for almost all causes of burning and irritation, especially dry eyes.
If you have allergies, try to avoid the cause (pets, grasses, cosmetics) as much as possible. Your health care provider may give you antihistamine eye drops to help with allergies.
Pink eye or viral conjunctivitis causes a red or bloodshot eye and excessive tearing. It may be highly contagious for the first few days. The infection will run its course in about 10 days. If you suspect pink eye:
Contact your provider if:
Your provider will get a medical history and will perform a physical exam.
Questions you may be asked include:
The physical exam may include a check-up of your:
Depending on the cause of the problem, your provider may recommend treatments such as:
Follow your provider's instructions exactly. With treatment, you should gradually improve. You should be back to normal in 1 to 2 weeks unless the problem is a chronic one like dry eyes.
If your provider suspects that your eye problem may be due to COVID-19, you may need to get tested.
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Dupre AA, Wightman JM. Red and painful eye. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 19.
Loffredo L, Pacella F, Pacella E, Tiscione G, Oliva A, Violi F. Conjunctivitis and COVID-19: A meta-analysis. J Med Virol. 2020;92(9):1413-1414. Epub 2020 May 22. PMID: 32330304 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7264785/.
Rubenstein JB, Spektor T. Allergic conjunctivitis. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 4.7.
Rubenstein JB, Spektor T. Conjunctivitis: infectious and noninfectious. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 4.6.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 12/9/2021
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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