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Eye and Vision Care

White Eye Discharge; Persistent Infection

04/15/2010

Question:

my husband has been having problems with both of his eyes for 6 months now. It started shortly after we moved into a new house. He has excessive amounts of discharge, which blur his vision. The first opthomologist he saw told him it was an infection in his tear duct, the treatment didn`t work so we were sent to another doctor.

He said that it was actually a papillary infection and again tried a treatment of steroids and another medication, both drops and oral. He too is now at his wits end about why he is not improving.

All he says is that it may be something in our home, we live in a the general vicinity of an EPA cleanup of old mining waste, but besides that it is a clean area.

What are the environmental factors(or examples) that would cause such irritation/infection? How do we go about treatment if we do know now the cause?

The doctors have never taken any samples of the discharge all they have done is examine him in their office. Any advice on our next step would be great, we have been to every eye center in our city.

Answer:

Your husband's condition does sound like it is caused by an environmental hazard. The facts that it began shortly after you moved into a new home and that all previous topical and systemic treatments have failed, indicate to me that the root cause has not yet been identified.

Environmental causes of eye infections are usually allergies to dust, smoke, mold, pollen, paint, etc. So I would suggest two possible courses of action:

First, (and you cannot deduct this from your taxes just because a doctor told you to do it), see if his symptoms are better on a long week-end getaway trip where you'll live in a different environment for a few days. If so, then there probably is something in your home that is causing his discharge.

Second, he may need to see an allergist who can test for dozens of environmental allergens; and if one or more are identified, then you can begin to reduce or eliminate them from your home. 

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Response by:

Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO
Professor Emeritus of Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University