Rheum, eye discharge, “sleep” or gunk in the eyes is often a harmless annoyance in the morning or after an irritant has been in the eye. But sometimes, the discharge is a signal of something that you can’t just wipe or blink away. Interventions may include dry eye MGD treatment for tears issues or antihistamine eye drops and decongestants for eye allergies.
Here are common causes of abnormal eye discharge:
1. Dry Eye
Dry eyes happen if the eyes don’t produce enough tears or the tears made don’t stick around the eyes long enough to keep them moist. Tear deficiency occurs because of problems with the lacrimal glands, and an evaporative dry eye happens if there are issues with the meibomian glands.
Insufficient amount of tears often lead to poor quality of tears. When the eyes don’t get enough fluid, the nervous system triggers the production of emergency tears that don’t have the right balance of ingredients. Gunk can indicate emergency tears that contain too much mucus.
2. Blocked Tear Duct
A blocked tear duct is a blockage in the path that transports your tears from the surface of the eye into the nose. A child may be born with an undeveloped duct. A duct may also get damaged by an injury, tumor or infection. Tears constantly flow across the surface of the eyes to clean the eyes and moisten them.
Once the tears do their protective role, they drain into a tiny opening which is the entrance to your nasolacrimal duct. If your duct gets narrowed or blocked, tears can’t flow smoothly from the eyes to the throat. Your tears will then build up, and the extra fluid will leave the eyes irritated.
An infected duct may also cause discharge.
3. Corneal Ulcer
A corneal ulcer, also called keratitis, is a sore on the area of the eye that covers the iris and the pupil. This open sore can indicate an eye injury, severe dry eye syndrome, or an eyelid disorder that affects proper eyelid function. An ulcer on the cornea can create tearing and discharge.
4. Pink Eye
Pinkeye, also called conjunctivitis, is an infection or inflammation of the see-through membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white of the eye. When the conjunctiva gets infected or inflamed, its layer of small blood vessels becomes visible. The white part of the eyeball then appears reddish or pink.
Problems in your transparent membrane can result from an allergy or a bacterial or viral infection. If that happens, one symptom may be eye discharge.
Relief for Eye Discharge
When tears dry, they often leave some crust on the eyelids or lashes. Some gunk in the morning is normal. Some discharge after an irritant has been in the eye is also expected. But visit a doctor if you notice crust that’s greenish, yellow, and more than normal or accompanied by other symptoms.
Your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antiviral eye drops or ointments if an infection is causing the discharge.