Your eyes are your windows to the world -- but, for those who start their days by waking up with an eyeful of mucus, a first glance at the world can be a bit clouded. If you find yourself feeling like your eyes are stuck together in the morning, a little warm water and TLC should do the trick -- and it is time to make sure you are practicing good ocular hygiene to keep your peepers protected and healthy.
Eye mucus is described as thick, yellow discharge that forms in the corners of the eye. Often settling into a hard crust on the eyelid and lashes, mucus can also be more pus-like, with green, liquid discharge leaking from the eye. Most commonly, mucus builds overnight while you are sleeping, and it seeps out of your eye throughout the night. In more extreme cases, you might even wake up being unable to open your eyes. If you have an eye infection, such as conjunctivitis, mucus will continue to seep from the eye throughout the day.
The telltale yellow crust of eye mucus is most commonly caused by your eye striking back at bacteria or irritants that wiggle their ways into the eye. Most commonly, bacteria grows out of improperly removed eye makeup. Seasonal allergies, sleeping in contact lenses and excess eyelid oil can irritate the eye and cause mucus to form. Remove eyelid oil by washing the area with baby shampoo, and then drying eyelids in a downward direction to work oil out of the area. Illnesses, such as sinusitis, cause mucus from the buildup of infection near the eye -- the extra pressure and pus can expel through the eyes. Medical eye infections, such as conjunctivitis are known for an increase in matted, pus-like eye discharge.
Safe Removal of Eye Mucus
Whether the mucus has crusted over or has remained a pus-like discharge, both of these types of eye mucus can be removed in the same way. Start by washing your face with a gentle cleanser to remove excess dirt and grime from the skin around the eye. Soak a soft washcloth in warm -- never hot -- water. Hold the washcloth over your eye for a few minutes to soften mucus and prepare your eyelids for mucus removal. Gently dab the washcloth on your lashes to pull large pieces of mucus away from your eye. Hold the washcloth near the corners of your eyes to pull pus-like mucus from the eyes.
Known most as pink eye, bacterial conjunctivitis is a common eye infection diagnosed by the hallmark symptom of eyelids crusted over with thick, pus-like mucus. The eye itself will be visibly red and will itch. Very contagious, the key to successfully treating pink eye is to quickly get to a doctor for a round of antibiotic eye drops or ointments. While typically bacterial, allergy-based and viral conjunctivitis are other forms of this illness -- neither requires medical treatment. Cure allergy-based conjunctivitis by either avoiding or removing the cause of irritation. Viral cases are a bit more tiresome to treat, as the only remedy is time -- no antibiotic can cure a viral infection. Cases often resovle in two to three weeks.
Maintaining Good Eye Health
Prevent future eye-mucus outbreaks by practicing good eye hygiene. Before you go to bed, remove your eye makeup with a gentle makeup remover specifically formulated for eye makeup. Additionally, read cosmetic labels to determine how long you should keep your makeup products, and replace any eye cosmetics that you used while experiencing excessive eye discharge. If you wear contact lenses, always wash your hands before inserting or removing your lenses. Clean your lenses with lens solution before you insert them into your eyes. As with makeup, if you do get an eye infection, replace your lenses to avoid reinfecting your eyes.