Have you ever woken up in the early morning, stretched your arms, and found your eyes stuck by a gluey substance? Well, a majority of the people are facing this situation these days. That gluey substance is called by several names such as sleep crusty eyes, eye gunk, or rheum.

What is Rheum or sleep crust?

Rheum or sleep crust is the mixture of mucus, tears, and some dead skin cells which formulate naturally while you are sleeping. Waking up and finding some sleep crust when you wake up is quite natural, however, if there is an extraordinary or abnormal eye gunk that is getting accumulated near the corners of your eyes, requires some medical attention.

What are the symptoms of crusty eyes in the morning?

Crusty eyes do not only mean the accumulation of eye gunk near the corners of your eyes. It can mean several things. They include some symptoms such as:

  • There is a white, cream, or yellow-colored crust gathering in the corners of your eyes in the morning. This is one of the most common symptoms of crusty eyes.
  • Secondly, your eyelashes are sometimes stuck together due to a watery or semi-solid discharge from your eyes.
  • There is a thick layer around your eyes when you wake up which generally causes irritation and redness  

What are the causes of crusty eyes in the morning?

Sleep crust or rheum, as mentioned before, is perfectly natural as it shows that your body is functioning perfectly well. What happens is that during the day when you blink your eyes, you are wiping away the dust, dead cells, or any other dirt which gets accumulated inside your eyes.  

However, when you are sleeping, you are not blinking. Due to this, all the waste particles and mucus get accumulated near the corners of your eyes, as they are still being produced. And therefore, when you wake up, you find a crusty layer of creamy gooey stuff gathered around the corners of your eyelids.

However, apart from these natural causes, there are also some serious causes due to which there is an abnormal excretion of rheum which can demand immediate medical attention.

Here are some unnatural causes to crusty eyes in the morning:

  1. Blepharitis:

Blepharitis is a medical condition, in which your eyelids get inflamed. There are several other serious symptoms of blepharitis, one of which is the excretion of eye gunk in the morning.

In blepharitis, an individual is suffering from eye redness, eye irritation, eyelids, or eyelashes that get to stick together, and even skin flakes at the base of your eyes. Blepharitis, however, affects only one eye at a time.   

  1. Conjunctivitis:

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is also another kind of eye inflammation that affects the thin membrane which surrounds the line of your eye, called the conjunctiva. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, allergic reactions, or several other environmental factors.

 A person suffering from conjunctivitis may experience an abnormal production of sleepy crust surrounding their eyelids and even cause watery discharge in their eyes. Pink eye can affect one or two eyes.

  1. Eye stye:

Eye stye is generally caused when the oil glands or follicles inside your eyes are inflamed. Due to this, eye styes can be extremely painful and lead to the production of yellow mucus which surrounds the corners of your eye.

It affects only one of your eyes which gets extra crusty.

Crusty Eyes
  1. Blocked tear duct:

If you are suffering from a blocked tear duct, you will notice that your eyes are not able to drain the waste products that get gathered throughout days and weeks. Therefore, when you wake up in the morning, you will observe small balls of creamy or white mucus gathering around the corners of your eyes.

Apart from the accumulation of the rheum, a blocked tear duct may also lead to redness, irritation, discomfort, and swelling in your eyelids.  

  1. Dry eyes:

A dry eye is an eye disease that leads to the decreased production of tears in your eyes. It is short for dry eye syndrome. If you have chronic or even occasional dry eye syndrome, you will find the sticky gooey mucus gathered, when you wake up in the morning.   

How can you treat crusty eyes in the morning effectively?

As mentioned earlier, the eye crust is extremely normal for one to have. However, if you are suffering from any other unnatural causes mentioned above, you need to pay attention to other symptoms and then focus on different ways of treatment.

One way to prevent the accumulation of sleep crust in the morning is to resist wiping the crust from your eyes with your unwashed hands. If you have eye gunk gathered around the corners of your eyes, wash your hands first and then rub the gunk out of your eyes, as your hands carry bacteria and germs.

If you do not want to use your hands at all, you can take a washcloth and dip it in warm water. Next, apply the washcloth to your eyes and wipe away the rheum. You can also keep the washcloth for a few minutes on your face, to refresh it and have a good head start in the morning.

However, if you are suffering from:

  • Strong pain in one of your eyes
  • Redness or irritation
  • Inability to open your eyes as they are stuck due to the sleep crust
  • There is a green or dark yellow discharge
  • Suffering from light sensitivity
  • Vision is blurred

; quickly seek medical attention, to determine the cause of your symptoms.

How can you protect your eyelids in the best possible way?

crusty eyes in the morning

If you start taking care of your eyes perfectly, you may prevent the production of abnormal mucus in the morning. Therefore, here are some eyelid hygiene tips which are needed to be kept in mind.

Tips to follow to take care of your eyelids:

  • Before going to sleep, always wash your face and gently clean the area around your eyelids with a clean washcloth.
  • If possible, do not touch or rub your eyes excessively throughout the day, especially with unwashed hands.
  • If you are wearing contact lenses, then make sure you remove them, wash your eyes and then go to sleep during the night, to prevent those crusty eyes in the morning.