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What Causes Fishing Mucus Syndrome and What is its Treatment?

What is Mucus Fishing Syndrome?

Mucus Fishing Syndrome is an abnormal condition of the eyes in which the affected individual tends to have constant outflow of mucous from the eyes. This mucous accumulates in the lower eyelid and disrupts vision of the individual. Mucus Fishing Syndrome may also cause redness of the eyes along with irritation and itching of the eye with the patient constantly rubbing the eye. The name “Mucus Fishing Syndrome” comes due to the patients suffering from this condition constantly “fishing” the mucous out of their eyes using their fingers, tissue papers or cotton buds. In majority of cases of Mucus Fishing Syndrome, the excess mucous production is triggered by an underlying medical condition which may include but not limited to dry eyes, blepharitis, pterygium, and conjunctivitis. All these conditions results in increased production of mucous which weeps from the eyes. When these sensitive parts of the eyes come in contact with a foreign object like a finger or a tissue paper it results in increased inflammation and thus increasing the production of mucous even more.

What is Mucus Fishing Syndrome?

What are the Causes of Mucus Fishing Syndrome?

As stated, in majority of the cases Mucus Fishing Syndrome is caused by an underlying illness resulting in increased production of mucous with some of the causes including dry eyes, blepharitis, and conjunctivitis. Due to these conditions, there is an increased production of mucous which gets even worse when the patient touches these sensitive parts of the eye with a tissue paper or the finger and thus the increased production may continue even when the underlying condition may have resolved.

What are the Symptoms of Mucus Fishing Syndrome?

The classic presenting symptoms or feature of Mucus Fishing Syndrome is the presence of mucous in the lower eyelid obstructing vision of an individual. This mucous sticks to the lower eyelid and covers the entire cornea. Redness of the eyes along with irritation are also some of the symptoms of Mucus Fishing Syndrome.

How is Mucus Fishing Syndrome Diagnosed?

In majority of the cases of Mucus Fishing Syndrome, the symptoms that the patients present with are good enough to diagnose the condition. This along with visible presence of mucous in the lower eyelid practically confirms the condition. In some cases, the patients are too reluctant to talk about their condition and try to cope up with it but without success. It is extremely important here that the patient does not hesitate in contacting a doctor as soon as they have such problems. The optometrist may also ask the patient as to how they clean their eyes which may give them an idea as to whether the patient may be increasing the inflammation by using the wrong methods of cleaning and aggravating Mucus Fishing Syndrome, especially if they show that they touch their cornea while cleaning their eyes.

How is Mucus Fishing Syndrome Treated?

How is Mucus Fishing Syndrome Treated?

The treatment of Mucus Fishing Syndrome depends on the treatment of the underlying cause. It is extremely important to tell the patient here about not to rub the eyes. It may be difficult to begin with but with a determination to get better and to get rid of this it will make the task that much more easier. Distraction is the best way to stay away from rubbing the eyes. Once the patient stops “fishing” in the eyes the problem will automatically start to resolve and the patient will see a definite improvement.

Inflammation Control: Since inflammation is one of the primary causes of Mucus Fishing Syndrome hence controlling the inflammation is important in treating Mucus Fishing Syndrome. This can be done the patient can use cold compresses to the eyes, using chilled artificial tears, and sometimes steroid eyedrops may also be used to knock down the inflammation.

Breaking up the Mucous: There are certain medications which can be used to break up the mucous so that it then becomes dry and falls from the eye on its own. The optometrist can give you a prescription for these medications. N-acetylcysteine is the most preferred medication used for treatment of Mucus Fishing Syndrome.

Treating Underlying Condition: Once the underlying condition is treated then the symptoms of Mucus Fishing Syndrome may automatically start to resolve.

Usually Mucus Fishing Syndrome takes about a couple of weeks to resolve after following the above suggested remedies.


  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Mucus Fishing Syndrome. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/mucus-fishing-syndrome
  2. NCBI. N-acetylcysteine for mucus clearance in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3761577/

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 24, 2023

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