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Is It Normal to Wake Up with Sleep Crust?

Is It Normal to Wake Up with Sleep Crust?

Waking up with “sleep” in our eyes is common under most conditions, but there are certain causes that could be concerning.

Most of us wake up with it in the corner of our eyes – some call it sleep crust, eye gunk, or eye goop. It’s usually a normal part of the sleep process, but there are certain instances when the “sleep” in your eyes could signal a problem.

Main Cause of Eye Crust
The eye’s normal protective process causes the daily sleep crust most of us are familiar with. While awake, blinking clears away dirt, dust, oil, exfoliated skin cells and mucus. When we’re sleeping, we don’t blink, which leads to the collection of discharge in the corners of our eyes. The discharge can be hard and crusty or sticky and wet.

Other Causes
Seasonal allergies can also trigger a build up of eye crust. Allergies cause your body to produce mucus to thoroughly clean out the allergens. Also, when your eyes are dry, you may see more crust.
If there is an excess of discharge that is yellow or green, it could be a sign of bacterial conjunctivitis, which would require treatment.

When Crust Becomes an Issue
Certain types of gunk could signal an eye infection or other condition. One of these is blepharitis, a common inflammation problem affecting the eyelid at the base of the eyelashes.
Other indications of a possible problem:

  • A lot of eye crust or discharge that is green, yellow or white
  • Trouble opening your eyes because the lids are stuck together
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Redness or swelling
  • Pain in your eye

Having any of these problems warrants a call to your doctor.

Cleaning Out the Crust
Try to avoid rubbing your eyes first thing in the morning, as your hands carry dirt and bacteria. To clean out the gunk, lay a washcloth soaked in warm (not hot) water on your eyelids and eyelashes and very gently rub your eyes to clean them.

While it’s normal to wake up with some crust in our eyes, you should seek professional eye care if you’re experiencing symptoms of eye infection or other issues. The Sterling Vision team includes experienced optometrists, ophthalmologists, and other specialists who deliver effective treatments for a variety of eye conditions. To schedule an appointment with us, call 541-262-0597 or schedule online.