Green discharge or mucus in one or both of your eyes is a sign of a bacterial infection. Having green discharge in your eyes requires medical treatment. Some types of infections can cause permanent eye damage if left untreated, so it’s important to visit your doctor if you have this symptom.
The most common cause of green discharge in your eye is a bacterial infection. There are several ways that you can get a bacterial infection in your eyes.
An eye infection from a cold is more common in children because they don’t always wash their hands regularly or thoroughly. The bacteria from a cold can be passed from objects or another person by touch.
Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is a common eye infection among both children and adults. The most common symptoms include:
- discharge or pus that may be green, yellow, white, or clear
- red eyes
- swollen eyes
- eye lashes that are stuck shut with dried pus
- itchy or irritated eyes
- irritation from contact lenses
- watery eyes
- feeling like you have something in your eye
Often, conjunctivitis will clear up
- seeing your eye doctor, who may prescribe oral or topical antibiotics if the conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria
- discontinuing the use of contact lenses and throwing them away if you think you have an infection
- applying cold compresses
- taking antihistamines
In most cases, eye allergies cause clear or white discharge. However, eyes with allergies can sometimes become infected, producing a green discharge instead. Eye allergies may also cause conjunctivitis.
Symptoms of an eye allergy may include:
- red eyes
- itchy or burning eyes
- eyes that become swollen
- white, clear, or green discharge
- watery eyes
Treatment for allergy eyes may include:
- decongestant drops for your eyes
- artificial tears
- shots for your allergies
Keratitis (corneal ulcers)
The cornea is the clear membrane or tissue that covers the pupil and iris of your eye. Inflammation of the cornea is called keratitis and symptoms include:
- excessive tears
- eye pain
- blurred or decreased vision
- feeling that you have something in your eye
- light sensitivity
Treatment options for keratitis include antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, or antibiotic eye drops, as well as oral medications.
Corneal ulcers are a serious type of keratitis and must be treated by an eye doctor immediately.
A stye is a painful red bump that looks like a pimple on or under your eyelid that is caused by an infected gland. Symptoms include swollen skin and a sore or itchy eye. A stye usually appears only in one eye.
Treatment for a stye includes:
- antibiotics prescribed by your eye doctor
- warm compresses
- massage of the area around the stye with clean fingers
- surgery if the stye affects vision
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. The symptoms are dry-feeling and irritated eyes, and discharge.
Treatment for dry eye syndrome includes:
- artificial teardrops
- prescription eye drops
- blocking tear ducts
- treating any inflammation that may be causing your dry eyes — such as eyelid inflammation, which can be treated with lid hygiene and sometimes antibiotics
- using a humidifier
- frequent blinking
- drinking more water
When children have green eye discharge, it’s typically for the same reasons as adults. The treatment may be slightly different.
- It’s more common for children than adults to have eye discharge from an infection when they have colds.
- A blocked tear duct is common in infants under 1 year old. It will usually clear up on its own with no treatment within their first year.
- Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is also common in children. It’s treated the same way as it is for adults. This is also the case for most other eye conditions that cause eye discharge in children.
- A baby born with gonorrhea contracted through their mother is usually affected in their eyes.
When you have an eye condition that is causing a green discharge in your eyes, there are some things that you should avoid:
- wearing contacts
- touching your eyes to avoid spreading an infection to others
- wearing eye makeup
- touching your face, or the face or hands of others
See your eye doctor right away if you have green discharge to rule out any serious eye conditions.
Green discharge from the eyes is usually contagious. The following tips may help prevent some eye conditions from getting worse or infecting others:
- Wash your hands any time you touch your eyes or the area near your eyes.
- Wash your washcloth and pillowcases in hot water.
- Don’t share eye makeup with others.
- Don’t wear contact lenses longer than recommended.
Green eye discharge can be a symptom of a variety of eye conditions. While some can be treated at home, others are more serious and require medical attention. Because of this, you should see your eye doctor for a diagnosis if your eyes don’t clear up in a couple of days. If you have pain, redness or blurred vision along with the green discharge, see your doctor right away.