Eye Goo: Why We Get it and What to Do About It

Eye Boogers: What They Are & What to Do About Them

Of all the weird health issues and bizarre bodily fluids that bother us, eye boogers have to one of the most annoying. You wake up and the first thing you feel is a giant blob of eye goo blurring your vision and creating crust in the nook of your eye. You know what we’re talking about. It’s gross and unpleasant and seems totally unnecessary. Or is it?

It’s time to get to the bottom of the eye discharge mystery.

What are Eye Boogers?

Eye discharge, sometimes called eye boogers, eye goo or sleep in your eyes, is a very common condition that occurs with most people, especially when they first wake up in the morning after hours of shut eye. So, what is it? According to Dr. Sherleen Chen, director of the cataract and comprehensive ophthalmology service at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, “the general consensus is that this debris is the stuff leftover from dried out tears.”  

Back up. Your tears are made up of mucus, water, protein and oils, all of which help to coat the surface of your eye and keep germs away. Throughout the day, every time you blink or move your eyeballs, those tears wash over your eye to remove any debris. Overnight, when your eyes are closed and you are not blinking (therefore your tears are not circulating), the debris can cause dryness, and the gunk that is leftover ends up gathering in the corners of your eye, waiting to be discovered when you wake up.

Sometimes those eye boogers can be more liquid and wet, and sometimes they can be hard and crusty, and it all depends on how dry your eyes are. Everything from allergies to contact lenses can impact the consistency of your eye discharge, but generally speaking, that goo is pretty harmless. Gross? Yes. But also, harmless. Consider it a healthy sign that your eye is cleansing itself. Phew.

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