Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Muco-purulent Discharge

I have a lovely little book called "Does Anything Eat Wasps?" It is a selection of questions and answers from "The Last Word" in New Scientist magazine. This is where anyone can send in any puzzling question, and readers try to answer it. It has even sparked university research.

One of the questions was about the little yellow crusty bits in your eyes, commonly known as sleep or sand (can you see where this is going?) and whether they had a real name. It turns out that they are a very dilute mix of mucous and pus. This is the protective coating of your eye, the mucous lubricates it and the pus is lots of white blood cells to eat any bacteria or dirt. It drains down the tear duct, but if for some reason there is too much or an infection it can't all drain away and evaporates, leaving the lovely yellow bits. Up until now it hasn't had a real name, but the consensus of readers was that it was a 'muco-purulent discharge.'

We have been learning all about it. I had never actually had conjunctivitis myself, but Widget picked it up somehow. We seemed to get rid of it with eye drops, but obviously stopped too soon and it came back. Then she passed it to me, and finally Midget. So more than two weeks later we are still doing the eye drop thing, because I'm not game to stop until we've all been clear eyed for a few days.

The interesting thing is that when your eyes are all inflamed the drops aren't too bad, but when they clear up it really stings. Obviously the thick protective gunk isn't just a nuisance, it does protect your eyes. Isn't it nice that parenting gives you the opportunity for wonderful little observations like that?


Michelle said...

Not sure if you're aware but conjunctivitis is apparently quite easily spread via bedding - i.e. pillowcases etc. So... if you're treating the kids and yourself, you might want to be changing the bedding frequently too so that they're not getting reinfected if that makes sense. Good luck with it - it is really annoying, especially for the young ones. If you can squirt, a bit of breastmilk in the eye doesn't hurt either, especially for Midget who might not accept the drops so well.

Deb said...

Thanks, I've washed them with Canesten. My glasses also had to be cleaned!