Eye discharge occurs whenever there is excess fluid in the eye. Eye discharge may be clear and watery, like tears, or in the case of infections, it may be thick and opaque. There are many causes of eye discharge, ranging from infections to allergic reactions to eye injury. Irritation of the eyes is a frequent cause of watery eye discharge. Allergic reactions can cause itchy, watery eyes. Both allergies and infections cause pinkeye, or conjunctivitis. Eye discharge associated with infections is usually accompanied by other symptoms including redness (bloodshot appearance), burning, blurred vision, or eye pain. Photophobia (sensitivity to light) can be associated with eye infections. Most causes of eye discharge are not serious and can be easily treated. Eye discharge can be accompanied by other symptoms, including crust, matting of the eyelids, or tenderness.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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