What Are Eye Boogers?

The buildup of mucus in the eyes is referred to as the eye boogers. Normally, after every blink, the eyes should flush away the secretions in the eye. Throughout the day, a person’s eyes produce mucus known as “rheum” that leaves behind what is colloquially termed as eye boogers.

Mucus serves as a protection of the eyes against dirt, chemicals, and foreign materials. While sleeping, a person does not blink which allows the mucus to build up. Eye boogers start to build up along the eyelashes and tear ducts when the eyelids are sealed.

What Causes Eye Boogers?

Mucus is normally produced in small amounts in a healthy eye. However, some complications may cause the mucus to be produced excessively in the eye. These changes can increase the possibilities of rheum sticking to the eyes.

The following factors may cause excess mucus:

  • Dirt and foreign materials near the eyes. When a person sleeps without removing eye makeup such as mascara and false eyelashes, the eyes can become irritated. In response to the irritation, the eyes will produce more mucus in an attempt to remove the dirt trapped in the eyes and on the eyelashes.
  • Weather or climate changes. During the allergy season or cold weather, some people tend to produce more eye mucus which may cause buildup or eye boogers.

A healthy discharge or rheum should be clear or light yellow. It could be hard, thin, or sludgy, after sleeping, but it should not be noticeable during the day. If the mucus appears to be very thick, dark yellow, green or occurs with redness or pain in the eyes, it could indicate an eye infection.

How to Get Rid of Eye Boogers

Eye drops may help treat and prevent eye boogers if they are caused by dry eye. Fortunately, most eye boogers are good signs that mean the eyes are healthy and are capable of removing dirt and debris on the surface.

People who wear contact lenses should remove them at night and replace them accordingly. Following a good routine of eye hygiene such as removing eye makeup before going to bed could help reduce eye discharge.

If you notice more eye boogers after sleeping, a warm compress held on top of the eyes for about 3–5 minutes can help loosen the rheum.
If excessive mucus shuts the eyelids together in the morning, it could be a symptom of a more serious eye condition. A painful and sudden excessive discharge accompanied by red eyes requires immediate medical attention to rule out any infection that may be present.

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