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What's Causing The Yellow Goop in My Child's Eye?

Being a parent means being on top of changes in your child’s health, and some are more noticeable than others. Paying attention to your child’s eyes and vision is an important part of that process.

If you see yellow “goop” or crusting around your child’s eyes, it’s natural to be concerned. Typically, determining the cause of eye discharge is typically straightforward — and at ABC Children's Eye Specialists in Phoenix, Mesa, and Avondale, Arizona, we have treatments that can help. 

Here are four possible reasons why your child could have yellow discharge from one or both eyes.

Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Conjunctivitis is a highly contagious eye infection that’s also very common among kids. Also called pink eye, conjunctivitis usually comes from a virus, but bacteria and even allergies can also cause it. 

Like its more common name implies, conjunctivitis makes the white part of the eye look pinkish when the tiny blood vessels are swollen and irritated. Pink eye can make your child’s eye itch, too, leading to rubbing — and increasing the risk of your child spreading it to others through touch.

The yellow discharge is a byproduct of the infection. Tears can appear thick, and when your child wakes up in the morning, they may have a yellowish crust along the lashes.

Other eye infections

Conjunctivitis is a common eye infection, but it’s not the only type of infection that can affect your child’s eyes. Yellow discharge can occur in these instances, too. Any type of bacterial infection can be serious, and without prompt treatment, it can even lead to eye damage or vision loss.

Blocked tear duct

In addition to keeping your eyes moist, the purpose of tears is to wash away debris from the surface of your eyes. Tear duct obstruction prevents tears from flowing normally, and that can lead to an increase in eye infections. 

If your child has a blocked tear duct, you might notice tears “spilling” over their lashes. They might have thick tears in addition to a yellow discharge, and in the morning, their lashes can be covered with crust.


Your eyelids contain tiny oil glands, and if one of these glands is blocked, your child can develop a painful, pink lump called a stye. Styes require prompt treatment to avoid a more serious infection. Yellow discharge or crust is a sign that an infection may already be underway.

Treating eye discharge

If your child has any type of eye discharge, they need to see our staff immediately. Discharge is often associated with eye infections, and delaying treatment can lead to more serious issues, including permanent vision loss.

During your child’s visit, we perform an exam, review their symptoms, and take a sample of the discharge for lab analysis. Depending on the results of the exam, your child may need prescription eye drops, medication, or simple hygiene tips, like compresses or gentle lid washing.

If you suspect your child has an eye infection, don’t put off seeking care. Call our offices to book an appointment with the team at ABC Children’s Eye Specialists today.

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