Have you ever wondered why is some crusty gunk in the inner corners of your eyes or on your eyelashes when you wake up in the morning? Though most of us often experience this, what do you think that eye crust indicates?
Our eyes constantly produce mucus and tears for protection. When we blink, excess secretions were flushed out together with stray eyelashes, specks of dust, and dirt. Since we do not blink while we’re sleeping, the excess mucus gathers in the corners of our eyes and eyelashes forming it into eye crusts. These eye crusts contain oil, mucous, and dead cells which our eyes have produced overnight. Meaning, waking up with a few eye crusts in the corners of our eyes is normal.
Signs of a Problem
A small amount of eye crust when you wake up in the morning is normal but if you notice changes in its quantity or consistency, then it might be a sign of a problem with your eye or eyelid. Here are some of the possible problems that your eyes might be telling you.
- Eye Infection
Some eye infections can cause an irritation of the eye which results in crustiness such as blepharitis. If you wake up in the morning and you can’t open your eyes because your lashes are matted due to the eye crusts, then it can be a sign of eye infection. But you don’t have to worry because warm compresses and good eyelid hygiene can cure this.
If you have a common cold, it can also cause watery discharge and red, irritated eyes known as conjunctivitis. Once your cold clears up, your eyes will get better as well. But if ever you notice a green discharge, it’s better to consult with a doctor because it can be a sign of sinus infection.
Having crusty eyes can also be a sign that you’re allergic to something. This leads to red, itchy eyes and stringy discharge. Other symptoms can be a runny nose and cough. If you’re allergic to something in the air like dust, it’s better to close your windows and use an indoor purifier. Some people are also allergic to common substance like laundry detergents. Using over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops can help too.
- Plugged Gland
The excess moisture produced by our eyes are drained through the puncta, or the openings in the upper and lower eyelids. When these openings get clogged, it will result in excessive tearing that will result in too much eye crust. This may go away on its own but you can also consult it with a doctor. This problem is often experienced by children but they grow out of it naturally.
- Dry Eyes
You can also experience excessive tearing when your eyes are dry. Having dry eyes means that your lacrimal gland, which is responsible in producing tears to lubricate your eyes, is under-producing. You might experience an episodic gush of tears which makes your eyes feel fine, but it will eventually dry out again. Using artificial tears can help with this problem.
- Old or Dirty Contact Lenses
If you’re using contact lenses, make sure that they are clean and upgraded. It’s because old and dirty ones may contain viruses and bacteria which can get into your eyes. These can cause your eyes to produce discharge. Also, avoid showering while wearing your contact lenses.
Consult with a Doctor
Having crusty and red eyes for a few days is normal especially when you’re not feeling well. But if you notice that its redness is becoming intense in one or both eyes and you’re beginning to feel pain and sensitivity to light, then you might want to consult with a doctor about it. This can be a sign of bacterial conjunctivitis.
It’s also not normal when you have an abundant discharge, your eyes hurt, and you’re experiencing some changes in your vision. It’s better to seek help from professionals when you experience these things.
To prevent eye infections, it’s better to avoid using your bare fingers when wiping off the crust out of your eyes. You can use a washcloth with warm water to loosen and easily remove it. Always wash your hands and avoid rubbing your eyes. If you wear makeup, make sure to remove it before going to sleep using makeup remover or baby shampoo on a moist washcloth. Also, avoid touching our face, eyelids, and eyes throughout the day to avoid getting infections.
Though having eye crusts in the morning is normal, it’s something that we should pay attention to as well because it might be telling us that something is wrong.