Goop, eye boogers, eye gunk...whatever you call it, eye mucus is a concern for many people. Eye mucus is usually found in the corners of your eyes and tends to accumulate during sleep.
You may find it difficult to describe the gunk in your eyes to your eye doctor, but characterizing the consistency of your eye mucus is important. Below are several different types of eye mucus discharge and the conditions that could be associated with them. If you think you may have one of these conditions, don't hesitate to consult your eye doctor for a correct diagnosis and treatment that may be needed.
Thick Green or Gray Eye Mucus
A thick green or gray mucus discharge coming from your eyes may represent an eye infection caused by bacteria. Bacterial conjunctivitis may cause your eyelid to be completely stuck shut upon awakening in the morning. This type of eye infection is caused by pus producing (pyogenic) bacteria and can cause symptoms such as redness and irritation.
Yellow Eye Mucus
Yellow mucus along with a small lump or nodule on your eyelid can be caused by a stye. Eyelid glands sometimes become clogged and infected and leak mucus. You might be tempted to release the trapped mucus by squeezing it like a pimple, but it is generally recommended that you don't because you may wind up with a skin infection.
White or Yellow Balls of Eye Mucus
White or yellow mucus balls in watery tears is a common sign of dacryocystitis, an infection of the nasolacrimal sac or tear drainage system. If you have dacryocystitis, you may complain of facial pain, redness and swelling around the nasal part of the eyelid. You may also notice a discharge coming out of the puncta, a small drainage hole in the eyelid. This condition can become serious if not treated promptly with antibiotics.
Thick Crusty Eye Mucus
Thick crusty mucus on your eyelids and eyelashes may be caused by a condition called blepharitis. Blepharitis is sometimes caused by a bacteria found on your skin. The bacteria may grow and infect the eyelids and eyelashes causing redness and inflammation. The eyelids may also thicken and form dandruff-like scales on the lids and lashes.
Stringy, White Eye Mucus
Stringy, white mucus may represent allergic conjunctivitis. Eye allergies can make you miserable. The allergic response may produce deposits and material that stick together, collecting inside of your eye or under the lower eyelid. A common comment of people with allergic conjunctivitis is "I keep having to pull this white, stringy mucus out of my eye!"
Watery Eye Mucus
Watery tears mixed with a small amount of mucus can be caused by a virus. Viral conjunctivitis can cause a variety of symptoms such as eyelid swelling, blurred vision, redness and a foreign body sensation. Viral conjunctivitis is often associated with upper respiratory viral illnesses. Inflammation and irritation will cause your eye to water excessively.
Small, Dry Particles of Eye Mucus
Small, dry particles of mucus found in the corners of your eyes upon wakening is often a sign of dry eyes or dry eye syndrome. Human tears are made of many different ingredients but are largely composed of water, mucus and oil. When the water component is decreased, mucus and oil stick together, dry out and wind up in the corners of your eyes in the morning.
Sowka, Joseph W, Andrew S Gurwood and Alan G Kabat. The Handbook of Ocular Disease Management, Supplement to Review of Optometry. April 15, 2010.