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Eye burning - itching and discharge

Itching - burning eyes; Burning eyes

Eye burning with discharge is burning, itching, or drainage from the eye of any substance other than tears.

Images

External and internal eye anatomy

Causes

Causes may include:

Home Care

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:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

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.

References

Cioffi GA, Liebmann JM. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 395.

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.

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.

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Review Date: 11/15/2019  

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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