I have a friend who seems to always have what I call eye boogers (that gross stuff that finds its way to the corner of the eyes) all the time. She has on very many occasions slept at my place but even after she showers, when she is done dressing up, she already has that stuff gathering in the corners of her eyes. It’s disgusting and I have asked her on many occasions to see an eye doctor.
We have been friends for five years now and I can’t remember her always having this problem, however, I can’t recall when it started either. She says her sight is fine and her eyes are okay, it’s just natural, but there is nothing natural about washing your face and moments later you look like you never did. What is going on with her? Is it actually natural? And if it isn’t what can she do about it?
What you have described is discharge from the corners of the eyes. Information which would be helpful in the diagnosis would be, does it happen every day or sometimes, is it in the morning only or throughout the day, is the discharge dry, crusty or dirty like mucous or watery? Lastly, is there redness and pain in the eyes as well?
Eye discharge or boogers is a combination of mucous, oil, skin cells and other debris that accumulates in the corner of the eyes. It has a protective function, removing the waste material and microbes from eyes. Normally mucous is produced throughout the day but it is removed when one blinks during day time. It is visible after waking up because of lack of blinking during sleep. Once eyes are washed it is no longer visible normally.
Hence any visible discharge in eyes during day time is abnormal and commonly occurs due to infections.
Conjunctivitis is the most common eye infection causing discharge from the eyes. It occurs due to infection and inflammation of the inner lower lining of sclera and is contagious as well. The infection can be viral or bacterial. Discharge can be mucoid or mucopurulent causing redness and swelling and even pain over the eyes as well.
Allergy to some substance can also cause conjunctivitis, but here there will be no pain. Other infections like infections of the eyelids or tear glands can also cause discharge from the eyes. The amount of discharge and its consistency depends on the type and severity of the infection.
Though your friend says that her eye sight is fine it is better to get her vision tested. It is said that mild impairment of vision makes one more susceptible to recurrent eye infections. It is said that if there is mild visual impairment, one tends to rub the eyes frequently to see more clearly , thus introducing recurrent infection.
While working on computers for long hours in closed, artificially lit rooms, majority of the people have become prone to have visual problems.
Regarding the discharge, it can be removed by using a soft clean cotton cloth dipped in lukewarm water. Washing the eyes at least three to four times every day with cold and clean water also helps to keep them clean and free from infections.
A diet rich in fresh green vegetable fruits, whole grains and nuts helps to strengthen eye muscles and improve vision.
Antibiotic eye drops can be used locally for bacterial conjunctivitis. Allergic conjunctivitis can be cured by using a short course of anti allergy drugs or eye drops.
Dr. Rachna is a specialist in internal medicine at Ruhengeri Hopsital.