Find Out What Your Eye Gunk Says About Your Health
It is pretty common to have a crusty gunk in the corners of your eyes after waking up in the morning or after a nap. The eyes make mucus, technically known as rheum, throughout the day and night to help in flushing out waste.
While you are sleeping, the rheum as it is a natural oil, alongside with old skin cells and other debris build up in the corners of your eyes, leading to the formation of the crusty discharge. This is commonly called eye gunk, eye goop or eye boogers.
While a little clear discharge in the inner corners of the eyes upon waking up is normal, to get rid of it, all you have to do is thoroughly wash your eyes.However, if the eye gunk has changed in color, volume or consistency, it might be an indication of some health problems.
Extra Crusty Gunk and Blepharitis
If you are waking up with gunk that feels extra crusty or thicker than usual, then you might be suffering from an eye infection. In fact, a thick crust along the eyelid line could a sign of blepharitis, or in other words an inflammation of the eyelid.
Blepharitis is a condition in which the hair follicles of the eyelashes become clogged or irritated due to an infection, which can trigger inflammation.In cases of blepharitis, apart from discharge or crustiness, your eyelashes might be matted and you might have trouble opening your eyes in the morning because of it.
According to the American optometric Association, apply warm compresses which can loosen the crusts several times per day, starting when you first wake up, especially then.At the same time, maintain a good eyelid hygiene in order to reduce the symptoms and fight off the infection and inflammation.
Yellow or Green Gunk and Conjunctivitis
A green or yellow eye discharge can be stingy and thick enough to make your eyes feel like they are glued and that is an indication of an infection such as conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye.According to the National Eye Institute, about 3 million cases of pink eye occur in the United States each year.
This type of infection is irritating and uncomfortable, with symptoms like redness, itching, inflammation, tearing, and sensations of a foreign body or burning in the eyes. The condition can be caused by bacteria, a virus, or allergies.
Applying cold compresses on the closed eyelids can help ease the itching and swelling caused by pink eye. You can also try applying warm compresses to prevent the discharge from drying out and sticking to your eyelashes.
As conjunctivitis is contagious, it is recommended to stay home for a few days until the condition clears up.
Thick Yellow Crust and Styes
Styes occurs when bacteria get into the oil glands in the eyelids, causing round and red bumps to form close to your eyelashes. It can also cause a thick and yellow crust around the eyelids making them feel sore.
A warm compress is the most effective way to treat a stye. It also helps to thin the oil and pus in order for the stye to drain naturally on its own.
Try to avoid using make up during this period and don’t wear contact lenses if you have a stye. In addition, experts recommend not bursting a stye as it can spread the infection. Eye styes usually heal on their own within 1 or 2 weeks.
Watery Gunk and the Common Cold
If you are experiencing a watery discharge from the corners of your eyes, it could be counted as an early sign of the common cold.A cold affects the mucous membranes in your head, so it is common to experience watery discharge in the eyes.
Also, you might have red and irritated eyes, along with some other symptoms such as a runny nose, sinus pressure, congestion, loss of smell or taste, headaches, sneezing, etc.The most effective and popular home remedies for the common cold are gargling with salt water, staying hydrated and resting.
Thick and Sticky Gunk and Dacryocystitis
If you have sticky and thick eye gunk, it could be due to dacryocystitis. Dacryocystitis is an infection of the tear sac and it occurs when a blocked tear duct prevents the tears from draining normally on their own and allows bacteria to build up within. This can cause the eye to produce a sticky and thick discharge.
In addition to the discharge, there are other symptoms of dacryocystitis, such as redness, pain, swelling in the corner of the eye next to the nose and a watery eye.To relieve the swelling and pain from the infection, you should apply a warm compress on the closed eyelid a few times per day. However, the main treatment for dacryocystitis is primarily antibiotics.
Extra Gunk and Dirty or Old Contact Lenses
If you are wearing contact lenses and your eyes are producing more gunk than usual, then it is time to check your contact lenses. This is due to the contact lenses being dirty or old and might contain bacteria or viruses that are getting in your eyes.
This can increase the risk of an eye infection and causes your eyes to produce more discharge.Go and get your contact lenses checked out by an experts or get them replaced or upgraded if needed.
Before and after use, always wash your contacts in appropriate solution recommended by your eye doctor and don’t forget to take them off when you go to sleep.
Gunk Impairing Vision and Corneal Ulcers
If you have a pus-like discharge from your eyes and it makes it hard for you to see, then go and visit your doctor.
Sometimes, it could be due to a corneal ulcer, which is an infected sore on the cornea of the eye that can result in discharge so thick you will have trouble seeing. This kind of infection is common in people who wear expired soft contact lenses or disposable contact lenses for longer periods of time.
Along with the thick and constant gunk, other symptoms are present, such as watery eye, itchiness, rod or pink eye, stinging or burning sensations in the eyes, increased sensitivity to light and others.If you have some of these symptoms, it is a potential corneal ulcer and you should go and get your eyes checked out at the doctor.
Depending what the cause is, prescribed antibacterial, antifungal or antiviral eye medication might be needed to treat the problem.The American Academy of Ophthalmology can do a corneal transplant for you, which is basically replacing your damaged cornea with a healthy donor cornea to restore your vision.
Tips To Prevent Eye Problems
- Discard old eye makeup and avoid sharing eye makeup with others
- Avoid using any kind of eye makeup if you have an infection
- Avoid wearing old contact lenses
- Always remove your contact lenses as instructed and be sure you are cleaning them properly as instructed
- Avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands
- Wash your hands frequently, especially if you have an eye infection
- If you experience eye discharge when wearing contacts, remove the lenses and go see your doctor