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Eye - Pus or Discharge

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Conjunctivitis - Viral (Pink Eye)

Conjunctivitis - Bacterial


  • Yellow or green discharge (pus) in one or both eyes

  • Dried pus on the eyelids and eyelashes. The eyelashes are especially likely to be matted together following sleep

  • May involve one or both eyes

General Information

  • Conjunctivitis is a medical term that means there is irritation or infection involving the white parts of the outer eye and the area under the eyelids.

  • Caution: Individuals with blurred vision or significant eye pain need to be seen by a physician urgently, as significant eye pain and blurred vision do not generally occur in people with conjunctivitis.

Types of Conjunctivitis:

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis (typically, thick white-yellow or green discharge) requires prescription antibiotic eye drops.

  • Viral conjunctivitis (thin, clear-white discharge) is often difficult to distinguish from bacterial conjunctivitis, thus antibiotic eye drops are often prescribed.

  • Allergic conjunctivitis (itching, clear-white discharge)

  • Chemical conjunctivitis from exposure to chemicals, fumes (eye irritation, tearing)

"Pink-Eye" is the term used when either a bacterial or a viral infection is causing the conjunctivitis. Depending on the severity, symptoms can include:

  • Mild discomfort, burning or irritation of the eye(s)

  • White portions of the eye(s) may or may not be pink or red

  • Eyelids may be puffy due to irritation

  • Tearing

If not, see these topics

  • Chemical splashed in eye, read EYE, CHEMICAL IN

  • Foreign body present, read EYE, FOREIGN BODY IN


When to Call Your Doctor

call now

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • You feel weak or very sick

  • Eyelid is very red or very swollen

  • Blurred vision

  • Eye pain or discomfort is more than mild

  • Cloudy spot or sore seen on the cornea (clear center part of the eye)

  • Fever of 103° F (39.4° C) or higher

call within 24 hours

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think you need to be seen

  • Yellow or green discharge or pus in the eye (Reason: probably needs prescription antibiotic eye drops to treat it)



  1. Reassurance: Pink Eye is a common complication of a cold or it can be acquired from exposure to a child or adult who has had it recently. Pink Eye responds to treatment with antibiotic eye drops and is not harmful to vision.

  2. Eyelid Cleansing:

    • Gently wash eyelids and lashes with warm water and wet cotton balls (or cotton gauze). Remove all the dried and liquid pus.

    • Do this as often as needed.

  3. Contacts:

    • Individuals with contact lenses need to switch to glasses temporarily (Reason: to prevent damage to the cornea).

    • Disinfect the contacts before wearing them again (or discard them if disposable).

  4. Expected Course: With treatment, the yellow discharge should clear up in 3 days. The red eyes may persist for several more days.

  5. Contagiousness: Pink Eye is extremely contagious. Try not to touch your eyes. Wash your hands frequently. Do not share towels.

  6. Call Your Doctor If:

    • You become worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.

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