And while the cause of most of these sleep remnants is fairly obvious, the reason behind those sometimes-sticky, sometimes-crusty gobs of crud that can dot the lashes or cling to the corners of the eye is less clear. Why do our peepers churn out this gunk at night and what’s in the stuff? For answers to these important questions, Body Odd turned to an eye expert.
“The general consensus is that this debris is the stuff leftover from dried out tears,” says Dr. Sherleen Chen, director of the cataract and comprehensive ophthalmology service at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston.
Folks who have more allergies, tend to have more mucous, which gives eye crud a wetter, gunkier quality to it.
Tears are made up of water, protein, oils, and a mucous layer known as mucin, which typically coat the surface of the eye to moisten and protect it from viruses and bacteria.
irritate the surface of the eye, so it produces more mucous to protect itself. People who have allergies affecting their eyes or who rub them a lot, such as small children, may also have more eye crud.
Throughout her years of medical training and specializing in ophthalmology, Chen says she’s yet to come across a technical term for “eye boogers,” so she simply refers to it as “mattering.” But in everyday conversation, it may go by the name “sleepy sand,” “eye goop,” “sleep,” or “sleep dust.”
Eye boogers can also accumulate on the outer corners of the eye or anywhere along the lash.
People who wear contacts are prone to forming more “sleepy sand” because the lenses
Are yours crusty or wet? The truth behind eye boogers (ew) Breaking News Emails Some of the evidence of a night’s sleep are visible when you lift your head off the pillow — bed head, morning
“Excessive tearing or abnormal discharge represent either the eye’s attempt to improve lubrication or fight infection or allergens,” she says. “It also could signal a problem with the tear drainage system.”
“When abnormal eye discharge stems from pink eye, also called conjunctivitis, people often are very contagious,” Dr. Haber says. “Avoid eye rubbing, as an infection can spread not only from person to person, but also from one eye to the other.”
This is true whether your eye discharge is normal or not. But it’s especially important if you have an eye infection.
Sometimes eye discharge is a sign of a problem with your eye or eyelid. It’s a good idea to pay attention if you notice changes in quantity or consistency of discharge, Dr. Haber says.
Do you ever contemplate the crusty substance that collects in the inner corners of your eyes or that sometimes is sticking to your lashes when you wake up in the morning? Is it normal? Does it ever signal a problem?
When you’re sleeping, your eyes continue to manufacture tears and mucus. But since you’re not blinking, the excess matter gathers in the corners of your eyes and in your eyelashes, says ophthalmologist Aimee Haber, MD.
- Light sensitivity
- Blurry vision
- Eye pain
- Swelling or redness
You may think it’s slightly unpleasant, but it’s typically not a reason for concern.
If you notice you have more eye discharge than usual or it has changed color (usually to yellow or green), check with your eye doctor. This is especially important if you notice other signs, including:
Do you ever wonder about the crusty stuff in the corners of your eyes when you wake up in the morning? Find out why it’s there and when excess eye discharge could signal a problem.