Waking up feeling like someone glued your eyes shut overnight? Eyes sticking together in the morning can be uncomfortable. When it happens more often than now and then, it can be a cause of concern.

Dry sticky eyes may limit the time you can spend in front of screens, lower your productivity, and make you squint at the book you’re trying to read.

The good news is that often, you can soothe tired sticky eyes with home remedies. The best natural treatments for dry tired eyes depend on what’s causing your symptoms, so let’s start with the problem.

What Causes Tired Sticky Eyes?

The causes behind tired sticky eyes can range from too much screen time to potentially serious eye conditions that call for an eye checkup. Often, however, tired sticky eyes are the result of lifestyle factors you can change for better eye health. 

Eye strain or computer vision syndrome, a common cause of tired eyes, doesn’t necessarily trigger an eye discharge. However, it’s possible to have tired eyes and sticky eyes at the same time.

seated woman with dark hair using her laptop at her kitchen table

This may occur if your tear ducts become blocked and mucus gathers in the corner of your eye. This happens most commonly while you sleep.

The tear glands produce mucus naturally throughout the day to lubricate your eyes and remove waste from them. So the occasional morning crust is nothing to worry about.

However, if the sticky eye discharge is significant or occurs regularly, it may indicate an underlying condition.

Common causes of sticky eyes include:

  • Stye – Occurs when an eyelid follicle or oil gland on the edge of the eyelid becomes inflamed, often because of infection. It looks like a red bump and may also cause tearing, soreness, and a scratchy feeling.
  • Blepharitis – An inflammation of the eyelids resulting from bacterial infection, blepharitis may cause red, burning, sore eyes.
  • Dry eye disease – Occurs because of an imbalance in the tear film that protects and lubricates the surface of the eye at all times. A shortage of water in the tear film can cause its other components, oil and mucus, to build into a sticky discharge in the corners of the eyes.
  • Eye ulcers – These are open sores on the clear covering of the eye, the cornea, typically caused by infection but also possibly by dry eye syndrome or eye injuries.
  • Conjunctivitis or pink eye – An infection or inflammation of the membrane lining the eye or eyelid. It may also cause redness and grittiness.
  • Allergies – Allergies in the form of allergic conjunctivitis may also lead to a buildup of mucus in the corner of the eyelids. Culprits include pet dander, pollen, dust mites, and mold.
  • Long hours in front of screens – Excessive screen time may reduce your blink rate, cause eye fatigue, and trigger dry eye disease, a condition in which you may develop sticky eyes.

Other causes of sticky eye discharge include tear duct infection, herpes virus, and eye injury.

Should You Be Worried About Tired Sticky Eyes?

Sticky or gunky eyes secrete discharge. This can happen in the morning and throughout the day.

Gunky eyes can be a sign of an allergy or a bacterial or viral infection. Looking at the type of discharge can help you understand what may be causing your condition.

  • Watery mucus can be a sign of allergic conjunctivitis.
  • Thick crusty mucus can be caused by blepharitis.
  • Small dry particles of mucus can indicate dry eye disease.
  • Yellow mucus with a lump on the eyelid can occur because of a stye.
  • White or yellow balls of mucus are the result of a tear drainage infection.
  • Stringy white mucus is often an indication of allergic conjunctivitis.

Occasional tired sticky eyes is normal and nothing to worry about. However, if the discharge persists and you have other symptoms, it’s best to check with a doctor. An eye exam may uncover an underlying medical condition. Early diagnosis will make the condition easier to treat.

Home Remedies for Tired Sticky Eyes

The best treatment for tired sticky eyes depends on what’s causing the condition in the first place. With that in mind, you can count on several home remedies to soothe your eyes.

  • Use a warm or cold compress. Read more about how to choose between a warm compress and a cold compress based on your symptoms.
  • Use a humidifier at night. Leaving a humidifier on at night in your room adds moisture to the air. It can be a cure against dry eye disease resulting from air conditioning or heating systems.
  • Apply some tea bags. Herbal tea bags have antioxidants and provide moisture. They can soothe symptoms related to itchiness, pink eyes, and styes. We’ve written a post on how to apply herbal tea bags on your eyes. Check it out.
  • Drink plenty of water. Water is a key component of tears. Staying hydrated helps support a healthy and balanced tear film. It may also help soothe symptoms resulting from dry eye disease.
  • Rest your eyes. Often, the best eye fatigue natural treatment is simply to give your eyes a much-deserved break from screens, reading, and any other close work that can tire them. This is important to prevent exhausted eyes, a condition in which your eye muscles are tired and may feel sore without any other underlying condition.
  • Take an eye health supplement. Eye health supplements won’t make tired sticky eyes go away overnight. But they can help address the underlying problems causing this condition such as dry eye disease. SightC is a superfood blend that provides antioxidants and other nutrients that support the healthy functioning of your eyes and tear glands. Blueberry Gummies pack the benefits of blueberries, one of the healthiest foods for the eyes, into a delicious, easy-to-take treat.
SightC and Blueberry Monk Fruit Gummies eye supplements from Sightsage

Important: Depending on your condition, some treatments may work better for you than others. That’s why it’s a good idea to try all the home remedies above to see which one works best for you.

The Wrap Up

Tired sticky eyes can occur for many reasons from styes and dry eye disease to long hours in front of screens. It’s also possible for multiple factors to contribute to the development of the condition.

Eyes feeling sticky now and then is normal and nothing to worry about. Applying a compress or herbal tea bags, staying hydrated, and taking an eye health supplement are some home remedies you can use to soothe your symptoms. If your symptoms persist, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.

In the end, tired sticky eyes can be a sign that you’re not giving your eyes enough attention. Paying more attention to your eyes is the first step to keeping them healthy and happy for years to come.

seated white haired woman with glasses smiling before computer next to serious senior man and with books on the sill next to her

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