Is eye gunk normal or should it be a cause for concern?
Do you experience crusty eye or eye gunk in the corner of your eyes when you wake up in the morning? If so, you may have asked yourself: What exactly is this stuff and where does it come from?
What exactly is eye gunk?
The medical term for this condition is called “rheum.” The Merriam-Webster definition of it is “a watery discharge from the mucous membranes especially of the eyes or nose.” While that may be the technical term, it is hardly used. It is actually a reaction to a good night’s sleep. That’s because this discharge is a normal part of the eye’s self-cleaning process.
Eye gunk consists of several different things, including exfoliated skin cells, mucus, oils and tears that are produced or shed by the eye during sleep. This condition does not happen during the day because eye gunk is typically washed away by blinking natural tears. When you are asleep, however, you aren’t blinking and that makes it collect in the corners of the eyes, where it dries up.
How common is it?
Just about everyone wakes up with eye gunk. The amount of it, however, can vary depending on the person. In fact, you may not even know it is there because there is often a very small amount of the stuff. It is common, however, during allergy season to get more eye crust.
When do you need to be concerned?
Eye gunk is something to be concerned about if it changes color. If it is yellow or green, it is typically a sign of bacterial conjunctivitis, which is a common form of pink eye. If your discharge is yellow or green, you need to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. If there are any other serious symptoms with your eye discharge, you will also need to see an ophthalmologist as soon as you can.
Keep your eyes clean to prevent issues with eye gunk
One of the best things you can do to prevent any of these conditions and issues with eye crust is to keep them clean.
- Wash your face every day, especially before bed. Use a mild soap and warm water.
- Avoid touching your eyes. If you must touch them, wash your hands first.
- Don’t share makeup or eye makeup brushes.
- Throw away old makeup.
- Clean your eyeglasses or sunglasses regularly.
>Typically, eye gunk is nothing to be concerned about. It is a normal part of the human body’s natural cleansing process. However, if you notice an increase in the amount of eye gunk you produce, or if it becomes excessively thick or oily, it may be a sign of an underlying health condition and you should consult a healthcare professional.