What Really Causes Eye Boogers

From your vision and eye coloring, to irritation and type of discharge, your eyes can reveal a lot about your overall health. For instance, the pesky pieces of crust you wipe from the eyes of your baby, your puppy, or yourself, commonly called eye boogers, can be quite annoying. What causes this eye crust anyway? According to Medical News Todaymucus is the cause of keeping those eyelids stuck together. This mucus, known as rheum, is your body's natural defense method, protecting the eyes from dirt, harmful chemicals, and foreign substances.

The eyes typically flush away the secretions of mucus they produce as they blink and most of the time, because the amount is so minimal, it goes unnoticed. This mucus, along with dust, oil, and skin flakes, builds up a bit in the corners of your eyes and along the lashes when you are asleep because you are not blinking. This process also occurs with your pets, and is nothing to be concerned with unless the discharge is green, yellow, or grey, which would then require a visit to the vet (via PetMD).

Different color eye boogers may be a health concern

While eye boogers are a relatively healthy and normal body function, there are some circumstances that might require a doctor visit. According to Verywell Health, the color of eye mucus is a crucial factor in determining a health concern — for example, thicker green or gray discharge is a sign of a bacterial infection such as pink eye (conjunctivitis). Although common, it is best to see a doctor as pink eye produces pus and can be quite irritating. White or yellow balls of mucus could indicate a tear duct infection and would also require a trip to the doctor for antibiotics. 

Allergies and viruses can also cause watery or goopy eyes, as well as certain autoimmune disorders, cornea problems, and even certain medications (via WebMD). Generally, eye boogers are a normal and healthy occurrence, but if you experience eye pain, swelling, or discharge of an abnormal color or consistency, you may need to see a doctor.