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We’ve all been there — we wake up with a little bit of crustiness in the corner of our eyes after a nice night’s sleep. Nothing to freak out about, right? Sure. But what about when there happens to be a giant goop of crustiness every single morning? Those “eye boogers,” as we sometimes refer to them, can be incredibly freaky. Especially if we don’t know what they are.

Turns out a little eye discharge — or rheum as it’s medically known — is nothing to cry about.

WHAT IS IT?

Eye boogers have a similar function to tears, without any of those messy feelings. The discharge is actually a protective function that removes any waste or harmful objects from the tear film and the front of our eyes. Turns out, our eyes produce this mucus all day long in order to keep them healthy. It just washes away when we blink, before it can harden. At night, with our eyes closed, all of that mucus, crust and cells culminate into the corner of our eyes, resulting in crust, “sleep” or rheum — depending on your preferred term.

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IS IT SAFE TO WIPE IT AWAY?

Since eye boogers are pretty much made of materials your body is looking to discard, it isn’t recommended to clean them with your fingers. Instead, opt for a warm, wet and clean washcloth to freshen up those peepers. If you do use your fingers, be sure to wash your hands immediately afterwards.

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HOW MANY EYE BOOGERS ARE NORMAL?

It’s important to pay attention to and to know your own body. The amount of eye discharge a person may have can vary from person to person. Do you wear contact lenses? You’re automatically prone to having more discharge, since your body is reacting to having a foreign object in it all day. Another culprit is allergies — having a little more crust one morning could be an irritant like dust. If you do suddenly find that you have excessive eye discharge however, or so much that your eyes are sticking together in the morning, it’s time to see a doctor.

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WHAT COLOUR SHOULD THEY BE?

That depends — did you wash off your mascara last night? Normal rheum is a cream-like colour. But that can change if you had some leftover makeup on the night before. However, if your eye boogers tend to be more yellow or green in colour (and you weren’t at an 80s-theme party the night before), head on over to your eye doctor, pronto.

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SHOULD THEY BLUR YOUR VISION?

In one word: nope. If your eye discharge is accompanied by blurry vision, light sensitivity, pain or any other symptoms, it could be an indication that something more serious is going on in your body. Make an appointment with the eye doctor, and be sure to keep your hands away from your face.

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