The Science Of Eye Boogers: Why They Form And What They’re Made OfBy BenOni | February 27, 2023
We’ve all had them – those pesky little bits of dried-up gunk that seem to appear out of nowhere in the corners of our eyes. But what exactly are they? And why do they form?
Eye boogers, medically known as rheum, are actually a mixture of mucus, oil, sweat, dust and dead skin cells. And they’re not just found in the corners of your eyes, but can also accumulate on your eyelashes, in the space between your eyeball and eyelid (known as the conjunctiva), and even on your contact lenses.
So why do they form?
Well, it all starts with your tears. Tears are essential for keeping your eyes healthy and lubricated, and they’re produced by a gland in your eye called the lacrimal gland. The lacrimal gland produces a watery fluid that contains electrolytes, enzymes and antibodies. This fluid then drains into small ducts in the corner of your eye, where it mixes with mucus from the conjunctiva (the membrane that covers the front of your eye).
The mucus helps to spread the tears evenly over the surface of your eye, and also contains enzymes that break down any foreign particles that may have gotten into your eye.
Once the tears have done their job, they drain into the lacrimal duct and from there into your nose, where they’re eventually absorbed into your bloodstream.
However, sometimes the tears can’t drainage properly, and this is when eye boogers can form.
There are a few reasons why this might happen. One is simply that the ducts can become blocked, preventing the tears from draining away. Another is that the tear ducts may not be fully developed, which is common in newborn babies.
In both cases, the tears will build up in the corner of the eye, and will eventually dry up, leaving behind the eye boogers.
So there you have it – the science of eye boogers!