The sticky, yellowish and crusty substance in the eyes that glue your eyes together in the morning, when you wake up, is a common phenomenon that occurs to everyone. Commonly known as eye discharge, it usually is a temporary phenomenon that can be encountered only in the morning for most people. However, for some, this condition may be persistent and last throughout the day and then, it is indeed a matter of concern that needs to be seen by a doctor.
Otherwise, crusty eye in the morning or having eye discharge in the morning is a harmless and an absolutely normal condition.
Crusty Eyes in the Morning
Eye discharge is nothing but a combination of oil, mucus, debris that concentrates in the corner of your eyes as well as skin cells. All these things accumulate together in the eye corners while you sleep. They can be sticky and wet, as well as dry and crusty. If most of the moisture in your eye discharge has evaporated, it will be dry and crusty.
Why Crusty Eyes Occur in the Morning?
In order to function properly and to protect the eyes, there is a constant production of tear from the tear duct on the corners of the eyes and also production of mucus to keep the eyes moist to avoid dryness. The eyes come in contact with dirt and dust every moment. To make sure that these dirt and dust particles do not harm or irritate the eyes, the mucus flushes them out with every blink.
However, when you are sleeping, as you are not blinking your eyes, the dirt and dust particles or the excess matters along with the mucus, get concentrated in the corners of the eyes. You may also find the mucus and the excess matter being concentrated on the eyelashes, gluing them together. If the moisture dries out, the discharge becomes crusty and dry. In the morning, the eye crust contains oil, dead cells that the eyes produced throughout the night, as well as mucous.
3 Serious Causes of Crusty Eyes in the Morning
The amount of crust or dried eye discharge in the morning is usually minimal and not a matter of concern. However, in some cases, the amount is serious and they increase with time. Sometimes, it happens in one eye only; rather than occurring in equal amounts in both eyes. In such cases, it can be a matter of concern and there can be a number of reasons behind the occurrence of crusty eyes in the morning. These include –
Viral Conjunctivitis: An extremely contagious condition in which a virus infects the white portion of the eye, making it pink. This condition, however, does not require any antibiotic treatment. All that you need to do is, clean the crust with a soft and wet piece of cloth. This will also help you to reduce the itchiness and soothe the eyes.
Chronic Allergic Conjunctivitis: When you are allergic to pollen or hay, you will develop this condition in the whites of your eyes, which become red, swollen and itchy by these allergens. This also is a common condition which gets treated with time with the use of cold compress or antihistamine (in case the patient is above 3 years old).
Dry Eyes: Another common reason behind developing crusty eyes is dry eyes. If your eyes do not produce enough tears or moisturizer, the eyes will become dry and form crust by concentrating the excess matters like mucus, oil or dirt and dust particles. If you do not blink your eyes for a long span or if you stare at something for long, such as a computer screen, you will find your eyes to be dry and forming crusts more than usual, when you wake up in the morning from sleep.
However, as long as the colour of the eye crusts is white or light cream, there is nothing that you should be worried about, unless it lasts throughout the day and is bothering you. If the colour is green and dark yellow, you should see a doctor to check if there is an underlying cause behind this condition. Otherwise, crusty eyes in the morning are a natural and common phenomenon.