Clear or White Eye Discharge Symptom, Causes & Questions

Clear or white eye discharge is most likely caused by either acute or chronic allergic conjunctivitis. Other causes of white discharge from the eye include an infection from contact lenses, viral or bacterial conjunctivitis. Read now for more information on causes and how to treat clear or white mucus in the eye.

This symptom can also be referred to as: mucous from the eye

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Contents

  1. 6 Possible Causes
  2. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  3. Statistics
  4. Related Articles

6 Possible Clear Or White Eye Discharge Causes

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced clear or white eye discharge. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Acute allergic conjunctivitis

Itchy, red, swelling of the whites of the eyes can be caused by allergies to any number of things (like pollen, hay, etc).

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: eye itch, eye redness, watery eye discharge, itch in both eyes, eye redness

Symptoms that always occur with acute allergic conjunctivitis: eye itch, eye redness

Symptoms that never occur with acute allergic conjunctivitis: lump in front of the ear, vision changes

Urgency: Phone call or in-person visit

Chronic allergic conjunctivitis

Itchy, red, swelling of the whites of the eyes caused by allergies to any number of things (like pollen, hay, etc).

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: watery eye discharge, eye redness, itch in both eyes, severe eye itch, swollen eyelid

Symptoms that always occur with chronic allergic conjunctivitis: itch in both eyes, eye redness, severe eye itch

Symptoms that never occur with chronic allergic conjunctivitis: vision changes, lump in front of the ear

Urgency: Self-treatment

Viral conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, is an inflammation of the clear membranes covering the eye. It causes redness, pain, and irritation of one or both eyes.

The viral form of conjunctivitis is very contagious because it is caused by the same viruses that cause influenza or the common cold. It is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and then someone else inhales the virus from the droplets in the air.

Symptoms include a gritty, burning feeling in the eye; discharge or tears; swelling; itching; pink discoloration due to dilated blood vessels; and sensitivity to light.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and careful eye examination. Smears may be taken from the eye for testing.

Antibiotics only work against bacteria and cannot help against a viral illness, and so antibiotic eyedrops are not effective against viral conjunctivitis. Treatment includes easing the symptoms with eyedrops and warm or cool compresses over the eyes until the illness has run its course, which takes two to three weeks.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: eye redness, eye itch, sensitivity to light, feeling of something in the eye, watery eye discharge

Symptoms that always occur with viral conjunctivitis: eye redness

Urgency: Self-treatment

Clear Or White Eye Discharge Symptom Checker

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Contact lens-related eye infection

Millions of people wear contact lens daily without issue; however, there is a risk of infection. Often, infection is avoidable by keeping lenses clean.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: eye redness, wateriness in both eyes, sensitivity to light, constant eye redness, eye redness

Symptoms that always occur with contact lens-related eye infection: eye redness, constant eye redness

Urgency: In-person visit

Vernal conjunctivitis

Vernal conjunctivitis is long-term (chronic) swelling (inflammation) of the outer lining of the eyes due to an allergic reaction. Vernal conjunctivitis often occurs in people with a strong family history of allergies, such as allergic rhinitis, asthma, and eczema.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: wateriness in both eyes, eye itch, eye redness, sensitivity to light, feeling of something in the eye

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, is an inflammation of the clear membranes covering the eye. It causes redness, pain, and irritation of one or both eyes.

Staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria are often involved, and anything that brings bacteria to the eye can cause conjunctivitis. Touching the eyes with unwashed hands; sharing eye makeup, washcloths, or towels; or improperly cleaning contact lenses are common causes. The same bacteria that cause the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia and gonorrhea can also cause conjunctivitis.

Most susceptible are children, but anyone can be affected.

Symptoms include a gritty, burning feeling in the eye; discharge or tears; swelling; itching; pink discoloration due to dilated blood vessels; and sensitivity to light.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, physical examination, and careful eye examination. Smears may be taken from the eye for testing.

Treatment involves a course of antibiotic eyedrops. It is important to use all of the drops as prescribed, even when the infection seems to improve. Warm compresses over the eyes can help ease the discomfort.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: sore throat, eye redness, eye itch, watery eye discharge, eye redness

Symptoms that always occur with bacterial conjunctivitis: eye redness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Clear Or White Eye Discharge

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Does anyone in your family have asthma, dermatitis, or allergies to pollen/animals/mold?
  • When you wake up in the morning (or from a nap) are your eyes crusty?
  • Do you feel like there is something in your eye?
  • Are you allergic to anything?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Please take a quiz to find out what might be causing your clear or white eye discharge. These questions are also covered.

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Clear Or White Eye Discharge Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced clear or white eye discharge have also experienced:

  • 6% Cough
  • 5% Eye Itch
  • 5% Blurry Vision

People who have experienced clear or white eye discharge were most often matched with:

  • 50% Acute Allergic Conjunctivitis
  • 25% Chronic Allergic Conjunctivitis
  • 25% Viral Conjunctivitis

People who have experienced clear or white eye discharge had symptoms persist for:

  • 34% Less than a week
  • 32% Less than a day
  • 18% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Clear Or White Eye Discharge Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your clear or white eye discharge