Having goopy or gunky eyes means that your eyes are secreting discharge. This can have several causes, most commonly infection.

If you have discharge in your eyes, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Discharge in one or both eyes could mean that you have some infection.

This discharge may be green, yellow, or clear. Your eyes may be crusted over when you wake up in the morning. Some eye infections are contagious. You should seek treatment if your symptoms persist for an extended time.

Several eye conditions can cause eye discharge, some of which require treatment.


More commonly known as pinkeye, conjunctivitis is common in both children and adults. There are two types of conjunctivitis: viral and bacterial. Viral conjunctivitis usually causes a watery discharge while bacterial conjunctivitis causes a thicker, stickier discharge.

Additional symptoms of conjunctivitis are:

  • eyes that look red or bloodshot
  • itchy eyes
  • pus or discharge that sticks to your eyelashes
  • watery eyes
  • eyes that burn

Mild conjunctivitis can sometimes be treated at home. But if it doesn’t clear up or gets worse, you’ll need to see your doctor.

Treatment for conjunctivitis may include:

  • antibiotic drops for bacterial conjunctivitis
  • antiviral drops for viral conjunctivitis
  • antiallergen drops

For symptom relief, you can try:

  • washing your hands every time you touch your eyes
  • avoiding any contact with your eyes
  • removing your contact lenses until your eyes are clear
  • using a cold compress to relieve eye pain


Allergies to seasonal pollen and other allergens, such as dust, mold, pet hair, and smoke, can affect your eyes. Additional symptoms include:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • congestion
  • runny nose

Lesser-known allergy-related conditions include:

Treatment differs based on the specific cause but may include:

  • avoiding your allergy triggers as much as possible
  • removing contacts until your eyes are clear
  • avoiding rubbing your eyes
  • washing hands after touching an animal and before touching your face
  • allergy medications
  • eye drops

Blocked tear ducts

A blocked tear duct occurs when something blocks the passage of tears out of your tear duct. In adults, it’s usually the result of either an infection, injury, or tumor. Symptoms of a blocked tear duct include:

  • red or bloodshot eyes
  • an unusual amount of tears
  • the inside corner of your eye is painful and swollen
  • reoccurring eye infections
  • eye discharge
  • crusting on your eyelids
  • blurry vision

Treatment for blocked tear ducts depends on the cause, but may include:

  • antibiotic eye drops
  • surgery
  • irrigation of the eye


A stye is a painful red bump on an inflamed eyelid that’s caused by an infected gland. It usually occurs in only one eye at a time. Additional symptoms include:

  • swollen skin around your eye
  • sore or itchy eyes
  • pimplelike appearance

Treatment for a stye includes:

  • antibiotics
  • warm compress
  • massage with clean fingers
  • surgery, if your vision is impaired

Dry eye syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is more common in older adults. It occurs when you’re unable to produce enough tears to lubricate your eyes. Your body either doesn’t make enough tears, or the tears are of poor quality. Symptoms include:

  • eyes that feel dry or gritty
  • irritated eyes, including burning, pain, and redness
  • watery tearing
  • stringy mucus

Treatment for dry eye syndrome includes:

  • artificial tears
  • prescription eye drops
  • tear duct plugs
  • using a humidifier
  • omega-3 essential fatty acid supplements

Keratitis (corneal ulcers)

Inflammation of your cornea is called keratitis. Your cornea is the clear membrane or tissue that covers the pupil and iris of your eye. Keratitis symptoms include:

  • discharge
  • redness
  • excessive tears
  • eye pain
  • blurred or decreased vision
  • feeling of having something in your eye
  • light sensitivity

Treatment options for keratitis depend on the cause but may include eye drops or oral medications. A corneal ulcer is a severe type of keratitis.


Trachoma is a contagious bacterial infection and spreads by contact with infected items. It can affect adults and children but is more common in children, especially in African countries. Symptoms of trachoma include:

  • itchy and irritated eyes and eyelids
  • swollen eyelids
  • discharge
  • eye pain
  • light sensitivity

Treatment for trachoma depends on how far along the condition has progressed. It may include:

  • oral antibiotics or antibiotic drops or ointment
  • surgery for advanced stages

If trachoma is not treated, it can lead to blindness. But with proper medical care, it’s easily treatable.


Entropion is a condition where your eyelid turns inward. This causes your eyelashes to rub against your eye and irritate them. It usually only affects your lower eyelid, and it’s more common in older adults. Symptoms of entropion include:

  • light sensitivity
  • eye pain
  • redness
  • feeling of having something in your eye
  • discharge
  • decrease in vision
  • watery eyes

Treatment options for entropion depend on the cause but may include:

  • switching to soft contact lenses
  • getting stitches to turn your eyelid outward
  • skin tape
  • Botox treatments
  • surgery

When children have goopy eyes, it’s typically for the same reasons as adults. However, the treatment may be slightly different. Here are a few more differences for goopy eyes in children:

  • It’s more common for children to have eye discharge from an infection when they have a cold.
  • A blocked tear duct is common in infants under age 1. It will usually clear up on its own with no treatment within their first year.
  • Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, is also common in children. It’s treated the same way. This is also the case for most other eye conditions that cause eye discharge.
  • Babies who contract gonorrhea from their mothers through childbirth tend to have eye difficulties, including discharge.

Eye discharge may be white, yellow, or green. Yellow or green discharge usually indicates that you have a bacterial infection in your eye. A bacterial infection should be checked by a doctor and may require prescription medication or eye drops. White discharge is likely not an infection.

Eye discharge can be a symptom of a variety of eye conditions. While some can be treated at home, others require medical attention. If your eye discharge doesn’t go away or gets worse, you should see your doctor.

Some causes of goopy eyes are contagious. The following tips may help prevent some eye conditions from getting worse or spreading to others:

  • Wash your hands any time you touch your eyes or near your eyes.
  • Wash your washcloths and pillowcases regularly in hot water.
  • Don’t share eye makeup.
  • Don’t wear contact lenses longer than recommended.
  • Don’t share personal items that touch your eye (e.g., towels, eyeglasses, blankets).