What are the Different Treatments for Eye Discharge?

Madeleine A.
Madeleine A.
Anatomy of the human eye.
Anatomy of the human eye.

Different treatments for eye discharge include antibiotics, eye drops, and hot or cold compresses. In addition, washing the eye with a mild cleanser such as baby shampoo is sometimes recommended by eye doctors, because it gently cleans away drainage, crustiness, and bacteria. Typically, eye discharge is the result of an infection such as conjunctivitis, or pink eye. This condition not only causes eye discharge, it also causes gives eye a pink appearance that is accompanied by tearing, itching, and discomfort. Sometimes, allergic reactions and foreign objects in the eye can cause eye discharge as well.

Eye drops are one treatment option for eye discharge.
Eye drops are one treatment option for eye discharge.

When a systemic infection is present, such as an upper respiratory infection, it is not uncommon for an individual to get an eye infection and subsequent eye discharge. When this occurs, the doctor might prescribe oral antibiotics to get rid of the systemic infection. As the infection clears up, the eye symptoms will generally resolve as well. If, however, infection is limited to the eye, the doctor might only prescribe an antibiotic ointment or eye drops. Eye allergies are typically the result of hay fever, allergic reaction to cats, and seasonal allergies. In these cases, antihistamines are generally effective in clearing up allergic eye symptoms such as discharge.

Antihistamines may be required to treat eye and seasonal allergies.
Antihistamines may be required to treat eye and seasonal allergies.

Occasionally, a sty in, or around the eye can produce irritation and eye discharge. When a sty is present, treatment usually includes applying hot compresses to the eye throughout the day. This cleanses the area and decreases pain, inflammation, and eye discharge. Sometimes people prefer cold compresses, and, when applicable, hot and cold packs can be alternated throughout the day. It is important to frequently change the compresses because re-using the same one can cause a re-introduction of bacteria into the eye, worsening the condition and preventing resolution of the infection.

If an infection causing eye discharge is limited to the eye, a doctor may only have to prescribe antibiotic eye drops.
If an infection causing eye discharge is limited to the eye, a doctor may only have to prescribe antibiotic eye drops.

Injury to the eye, such as an abrasion to the cornea, can sometimes cause significant irritation and eye discharge. Generally, corneal abrasions heal quickly, and require no treatment. When deep or severe abrasions occur, however, numbing eye drops might be prescribed, as well as ophthalmic antibiotics.

Rarely, the physician will patch the injured eye in order to allow it to rest. Patching also prevents bacteria from entering the eye, allowing it to heal and limiting exposure to irritating bright light. Although discharge from the eye is seldom a serious condition, when persistent or long-lasting, further medical evaluation might be needed to determine the cause, and prevent permanent eye damage.

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    • Anatomy of the human eye.
      Anatomy of the human eye.
    • Eye drops are one treatment option for eye discharge.
      Eye drops are one treatment option for eye discharge.
    • Antihistamines may be required to treat eye and seasonal allergies.
      Antihistamines may be required to treat eye and seasonal allergies.
    • If an infection causing eye discharge is limited to the eye, a doctor may only have to prescribe antibiotic eye drops.
      If an infection causing eye discharge is limited to the eye, a doctor may only have to prescribe antibiotic eye drops.
    • An eye patch can prevent bacteria from entering the eye, allowing it to heal and limit exposure to bright light.
      An eye patch can prevent bacteria from entering the eye, allowing it to heal and limit exposure to bright light.
    • Corneal abrasions generally heal quickly, without treatment.
      Corneal abrasions generally heal quickly, without treatment.
    • A sty in or around the eye can produce irritation and eye discharge.
      A sty in or around the eye can produce irritation and eye discharge.
    • Injury to the eye can sometimes cause significant irritation and eye discharge.
      Injury to the eye can sometimes cause significant irritation and eye discharge.