WHAT EXACTLY IS "SLEEP IN YOUR EYES?"

Dr. Jim Martin 07/07/2015

It can be wet and sticky or dry and crusty. It goes by a variety of unflattering names, including eye gunk, eye boogers and discharge. Doctors sometimes refer to it as rheum, but most people simply call it "sleep."broome_blog.jpg

In reality, it's a combination of mucus, oil and other debris that gathers and accumulates in the corners of your eyes while you sleep. And as ugly and seemingly gross as it is, this substance actually plays an important role in your overall eye health.

Mucus Protects Your Eyes


Excreting mucus from your eyes is your body's way of ridding itself of potentially harmful waste products. In fact, your eyes are constantly producing mucus – all day, every day. You don't usually notice it, because when you're awake you're blinking away the mucus before it can dry and gather in the corners of your eyes.

When you're asleep, you're not blinking, so the mucus has no where to go except to our eyes’ corners. There, it collects, hardens and waits until you can wipe it away when you wake up.

Waking up with sleep in your eyes might look a little unsightly, but it's a lot healthier for your eyes than if all that gunk had been allowed to float around under your eyelids all night long.

Mucus Alerts You To Serious Medical Conditions


Most of the time, waking up with sleep in your eyes is no big deal. Sometimes, however, it can be cause for concern. Mucus that is green or yellow in color can indicate the presence of an infection. So can mucus that’s accompanied by blurry vision, sensitivity to light and eye pain. Excessive mucus and itchy, irritated red eyes is associated with conjunctivitis, which is commonly called "pink eye."

In some severe cases, it can be caused by an eye disease. If the mucus is green or yellow and you're in a lot of pain, contact your eye doctor right away.

Mucus Lets You Know When It's Time For Allergy Medication


If you suffer from seasonal allergies, pay close attention to the mucus that gathers in your eyes. When allergy season rolls around, this mucus will tend to be more pronounced. So, if you start waking up with more crusted mucus than usual, it might be time to start proactively taking your allergy medication as well as other steps to keep yourself from suffering allergy symptoms.

No one really likes dealing with sleepy eye in the morning (hence all the unflattering nicknames), but it does play an important role in your overall eye health. If you've got questions or concerns about eye mucus, contact Broome Optical in Amarillo today.

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