What are Sticky Eyelids?

Often at times when we get up in the morning our upper and lower eyelids are glued shut together and we find it very difficult to open our eyes. This is common if it happens once in a while and is not a matter of concern, but if this becomes a persistent occurring then it may indicate an underlying eye infection and will need consultation with an optometrist. Sticky eyelids is a normal defense mechanism of the eye in which it tries to remove any unwanted debris from entering in the tear film of the eyes but in some cases this discharge due to which one has sticky eyelids may be an indication of an underlying eye problem. Sticky eyelids can occur in both children and adults alike and there is no age bar for sticky eyelids.

What Causes Sticky Eyelids & How is it Treated?

What are the Causes of Sticky Eyelids?

Coming to the causes of Sticky Eyelids, as stated above it is a natural defense mechanism of the eyes to discharge mucous from the eyes so that no foreign body in the form of bacteria or other debris can enter the eye and damage it.

Sticky Eyelids Caused Due to Bacterial Infection:

Discharge from the eyes is an indication that some type bacteria or other debris which may be from a makeup or as a result of extra oily skin tried to make its way through the eyes due to which the defense mechanism of the eyes is triggered and there is discharge from the eyes causing sticky eyelids. Bacterial infection is the most common cause of sticky eyelids as it causes conditions like blepharitis. Blepharitis is the name given to a condition in which there is an inflammation of the base of the eyelashes. People down with cold and flu also tend to have this discharge resulting in sticky eyelids.

Sticky Eyelids Caused Due to Conjunctivitis:

Conjunctivitis or inflammation of the conjunctiva due to an infection is also quite a common cause for sticky eyelids but this will be always accompanied by red bloodshot eyes. It is a self limiting condition and resolves within a week or so and so does sticky eyelids.

Sticky Eyelids Caused Due to Old Contacts Lens:

Another cause for sticky eyelids can be wearing old and worn off contact lenses. These lenses when they become old tend to have bacteria in them which when worn can cause infections. Secondly, as one wears contact lenses for a longer period of time, proteins and oil deposits from normal tears from the eyes gets accumulated on the lens resulting in infections.

Some of the less common causes of eye discharge resulting in Sticky Eyelids are:

  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Dry eyes
  • Allergic reaction
  • Hay fever.

What are the Other Symptoms Accompanying Sticky Eyelids?

Depending on the underlying cause of Sticky Eyelids, the following symptoms may also be observed:

  • Blurred vision
  • Burning Eyes
  • Eye itching
  • Eye soreness
  • Persistent water coming from the eyes
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Photophobia.

How is Sticky Eyelids Treated?

Treatment for sticky eyelids again depends on the underlying cause. If the cause for your sticky eyelids has been determined as being an infection then the optometrist will prescribe eyedrops or oral antibiotics to knock down the infection and cure the condition. Apart from this, there are several precautionary measures you can take at home so as to prevent Sticky Eyelids from recurring. These methods have been illustrated below.

Using Washcloth: If you are faced with sticky eyelids on waking up in the morning, you can use a warm washcloth and gently pat the eyes so that the discharge in the eyes is removed and you can reopen the eyes and see clearly.

Avoid Reusing Makeup: it is advisable to throw away a used makeup and not to use it again, especially if you had been wearing it during an infection as it may have bacteria and the infection may recur causing Sticky Eyelids again.

Using Contact Lenses: If you are a regular user of contact lenses then make sure that you replace them on time before they get worn out for reasons cited above.

Shampoo: A baby shampoo or other milder detergents can be used to wash the eyes so as to remove the discharge and get rid of sticky eyelids.

Eye Scrubs: These are highly recommended by optometrists these days and are easily available in the market to get rid of excess discharge from the eyes which result in Sticky Eyelids.

What are Some of the Complications of Sticky Eyelids?

Sticky Eyelids may be cured in a few days time if treated promptly. In case if it is left untreated then the following complications may occur:

  • Blurred vision
  • Intensification of infection
  • Corneal problems
  • Loss of vision.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: May 3, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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