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External and internal eye anatomy
External and internal eye anatomy


Definition:

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



Alternative Names:

Itching - burning eyes; Burning eyes



Considerations:

Sometimes burning and itching eyes are due to environmental pollutants. If secondhand cigarette smoke is annoying, say so. If an industrial plant in the area is polluting, contact the EPA for solutions.



Common Causes:
  • Allergies , including seasonal allergies or hayfever
  • Bacterial infections
  • Chemical irritants (such as chlorine in a swimming pool or makeup)
  • Conjunctivitis or pink eye
  • Irritants in the air (cigarette smoke or smog)


Home Care:

Apply cool compresses to soothe itching.

If the eyelids have crusts, gently soften them with warm compresses. Gently washing the eyelids with baby shampoo on a cotton applicator can help remove crusts.

Artificial tears used 4-6 times a day can also relieve symptoms. Avoid over-the-counter eyedrops other than artificial tears because they will eventually make symptoms worse.

Itching and burning due to allergy or chemicals can be very uncomfortable. Attempt to determine the cause of the allergy, such as a pet, seasonal pollen, or irritating cosmetics.

Refrigerated artificial tears can be very soothing. Antihistamine drops, available from your health care provider, can be helpful.

Pink eye or viral conjunctivitis causes a red or bloodshot eye and excessive tearing. If you suspect pink eye, remember to wash your hands often, and avoid touching the unaffected eye. The infection will run its course in about 10 days.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is not common, but if you have eye discharge that is white, yellow, or greenish, contact your health care provider.



Call your health care provider if:

Contact your health care provider if:

  • The discharge is thick, greenish, or resembles pus
  • You have excessive eye pain or sensitivity to light
  • Your vision is decreased


What to expect at your health care provider's office:

Your health care provider will get a medical history and will perform a physical examination .

Medical history questions may include:

  • What does the eye drainage look like?
    • Is it thick?
    • Is it yellow?
    • Does it look like pus?
    • Is it green?
    • Is it bloody?
    • Is it clear?
  • Other questions

The physical examination may include a check of your:

  • Eyelids
  • Eye motion
  • Reaction of your pupils to light
  • Vision

Treatment:

Your doctor may prescribe antihistamines in the form of eye drops or ointments. Cortisone-like eye ointments are not often prescribed. These medications will reduce many types of inflammation, but can worsen certain infections, such as herpes.

After seeing your health care provider:

If your symptoms do not improve or they worsen in 1-2 weeks, contact your health care professional. You might need additional treatments.



Prevention:




Review Date: 11/13/2007
Reviewed By: Manju Subramanian, M.D., Assistant Professor in Ophthalmology, Vitreoretinal Disease and Surgery, Boston University Eye Associates, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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