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'Sleepies' in the eye after waking up

Why do I have 'sleepies' in my eyes when I wake up, and is there anything I can do to minimise them or stop them appearing at all?

Optician’s answer

‘Sleepies’ (also known as Rheum) found in the corners of your eye on waking are a combination of mucus, oil, skin cells and other debris that gathers while you sleep.

This eye discharge is protective, mainly removing waste products and harmful debris from the tear film and front surface of your eyes.

Your eyes produce mucus throughout the day, but your tear film flushes it out (by blinking) before it hardens in your eyes. When you're asleep (and not blinking), eye discharge collects in the corners of your eyes.

Some 'sleepies' in your eyes on waking is normal, but excessive eye discharge, especially if it's green or yellow in colour, sticky, and/or accompanied by blurry vision, light sensitivity, redness and pain, can indicate an eye infection and should be investigated by your optician.