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Eye-picking
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I'm an eye-picker too and this is the first time I've searched on-line about it. I have to say I'm somewhat relieved to find others who do the same thing. I started around 17 and am now 43. It's caused me no end of suffering over the years, yet I've actually done very little about it. I tried a hypnotist once, asked an eye doctor about it, but mostly keep punishing myself that I do it, analyze why I do it, and hope that it will somehow end.

It's definitely stress related. What I've noticed over time is that I do it when I've got a lot on my mind and don't know what to do...or when I want to "check out" just procrastinate or not face life in general -- picking and worry go hand in hand. I notice I can go a while without doing it if I'm fully engaged in other things -- especially if it gets things on my hands. Thankfully I'm not so far gone that I'd pick my eyes after I just cooked with hot peppers or something like that.

Put on a very simplistic level, I believe it's a form of avoidance. Then one top of that comes the years of habit that gets wired in, and the body's response setting up a loop. In other words, if I haven't done it in a while but my eyes water for some reason -- smoke, chopping onions, etc. -- and I feel the strings across my eyes, it's nearly impossible to leave it alone. Though I give myself a pat on the back if I'm able to do a quick wipe to get it out of my vision and then go back to keeping my hands and mind busy on what's in front of me.

I think it's best to try to deal with it like any other habit or addiction. One day at a time -- and not concentrate on "not doing it" but concentrate on directing your attention to something else. If you go longer without doing it -- truly congratulate yourself. You've probably discovered that punishment and judgement aren't effective ways to make progress on anything. Reward, going easy on yourself, step-by-step -- and like one contributor said -- be grateful you dont' have some horrid addiction. This is a tough one, I know -- the soreness, bloodshot aching eyes, headaches, wear and tear on the face -- it's tough -- but it's not drinking or heroin or that. Keep it light - if you don't give it a lot of attention or weight - I believe it helps alot. You are more than this habit. Don't attach yourself to it and make it a big part of your identity. Hey - I think I'm feeling the help here already by just writing this. Good luck everyone.
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Comments (20)
I'm an eye picker too, it gets on my nerves cuz i constantly feel as if there is something in my eyes.
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I've never heard of eye-picking but I know that for skin-picking, pulling hair, etc, you're supposed to do exactly what you said not to do - concentrate on not doing it, force yourself to deal with the stress of wanting to do it.
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Wow I am glad I found this thread! I am 34 and I pick my eye crusties a few times a day, and it hasn't increased over the years. However I do feel an uncontrollable urge to pick at my poor cat's eye crusties all the time! I too find satisfaction/stress relief in fishing a long string of gunk out of his eyes.

I can tell his eyes get irritated, as they produce more mucus, and sometimes the crusties dry up and when I pick them they bleed. But this doesn't stop me, although I wish it did.

Sometimes I go to my friends' houses and if they have a cat I'll have "the urge", and if the cat's eyes is good and gunky, when they're not looking, I'll go to town. I totally feel like some sort of cat-eye-crusties burglar. I wish I didn't have that urge but it's hard to control it. Like you all I feel terrible about it and really wish I could stop.

I'll also pick at my pimples once in a while- never too much, like the folks who have the skin-picking disease, but definitely on the cusp of it. Maybe the cat-eye crusties picking is a "safe" deviation stemming from the same impulse.

I guess we can take comfort in the thought that if we are doing something we would like to stop doing but can't, it is definitely some sort of OCD. Start looking at it like that, not as a shameful habit. Maybe start with reading one of those "OCD for dummies" books, just to get your bearings. Then see if you can rid yourself of your compulsion yourself, or if you need professional help.

The world is full of OCD's, from the more mainstream ones (checking the locks) to really odd ones! Everyone's got their strange thing, ours just happens to be picking gunk out of ours/others' eyes!

Hope this helps someone out there.
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I hope everyone has found a bit of relief in this post, as I have aswell. Just to know that there are other people out there experiencing a similar menace is somewhat comforting, no? But nothing compared to that satisfying string that you get out of your eye. Just reading all the comments I'm thinking to myself.. this is all great, I feel better, but wait, I feel like theres something in my eye -- why don't I just .. AHH! Driving me crazy. It also happens more at night for me, but I've had some cases where it's so bad that I irritate my eye (usually one per incident like this) to the point where it's completely blood shot and red. Several times now, I've flipped my eye lid open and thought that what i was pulling out was eye goo, but it turned out it was actually a verrrry thin layer of skin from my inner eye lid that i was removing. Scar tissue, woo hoo. Afterwards, it feels o.k. Then like clock work, 10 minutes later, I feel the irritation again and I pick away. It's not always that bad, usually it's just the standard old eye strings that feel so good to get out, and I pull them apart to see how long they are. I do NOT understand why this is satisfying for me, the length-that is, but I "dispose" of said string and maybe somewhere deep inside feel as though I've accomplished some amazing thing? Not likely. I find that now, since it's been years since I've been doing this, I have more eye goo than the average human being who doesn't have this habbit. It first started in grade 6, I am now 24, and I remember exactly when it happened, outside on the play ground, how it felt, great, and then one time I think some kid had a comment about it, embarassing. Did anyone find any solutions? Is it just a thing tha tyou have to stop doing and once you stop doing it for a while the urge will eventually go away? The hard part is -- if you stop doing it for a while -- thers a MIGHTY FINE BUILD UP READY TO BE PICKED!! Oh dear. when will the goo cease?
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I pick at my cat's eyes, everyday she has crumbs at he eye near the tear-gland, I pick at it so much, she hates it, and avoids me when I try to pick her eye, she's gotten like 2 eye infections in 3-4 years, but I don't feel like stopping to pick at my cat's eye.
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This is called mucus fishing sydrome. look it up. it is an OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)

addicted to picking mucus strings from eyeballs

it's a picking disorder that can manifest into eye picking/face picking/eyelash picking etc.

good luck everyone. i know how u all feel. i have had this since my teenage years. i am now 28 and still going!
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I have picked my eyes since I was really young, maybe 5 or 6, i am now 31. My mum did it alot and i copied her, (she still does it). My mum told me i would have green stuff come out of my eyes when i was young and i remember becoming really upset as a young kid thinking this would really happen. Although it scared me i still kept doing it, she then told me i would go blind (really helped, thanks mum).

I have never looked this up on the net before because i am so embarrassed. My mum made me feel so ashamed from a young age and this continues now.

Much like all of you, I enjoy the sensation, like to see how long i can stretch them between my fingers and have made my eyes sore from doing it too much. I have only told 1 person that i do it, my ex boyfriend, it took so much courage. Only my family have seen me do it when I was young. My brother a few years ago said "you still do that!" and did an impression of me picking my eyes, I was SO ashamed.

It's weird I feel this way about something that is a habit, not hurting anyone else! The shame and embarrassment has been learnt and it is going to take a while to unlearn this.

Will I actually damage my eyes if i continue?

Thank you for reading, i have never written about it before.
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Wow! I'm not the only one who has this problem. I am 20 years old and done this since elementary school. It is truly an addiction, i can't help. Sometimes i don't even notice it. I notice it mainly happens when i am tired, or something bad has happened. i wish i didn't have to, but i feel as if their is something continuously in my eyes, however i was diagnosed with SPK a few years ago. SPK is an actual disease where you feel their is something in your eyes all the time. I do not believe this is the reason for my picking though. I am very relieved to know i'm not the only person who does this!

SPK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thygeson's_superficial_punctate_keratopathy
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@yoyomofo! Thank you for that, i knew it wasn't because of the SPK i recently posted about. I had no clue it was a type of OCD
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So has anyone talked to a doctor about this, im getting huuge bags under my eyes that are making me extremly self conscious.. is there no eye drops or something out there that can just stop the booogys from forming?
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Flabbergasted, I'm responding to you here, because my iPad isn't letting me make a personal reply. That's interesting what you said about OCD. It makes sense, as I'm taking a SSRI anti-depressant also prescribed for OCD.

I really don't want to upset the cat owners who pick at their cats' eyes, but you really must stop it, or send your cat to the pound or another loving home. I'm a cat owner, and would be very upset at the thought of having to give one of my cats away.

The sad reality is you are harming your cats, your picking at their eyes might lead to blindness and it causes them a lot of distress. So you're going to have to do the right thing for your cat. If you can't stop the compulsion to pick at their eyes, you should try to find them a new home.
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Sorry to double post, but I was so upset over the cat situation I forgot to mention a helpful tip I came across. Whole Foods sells 365 Fragrance-Free Foaming Soap, I found out it is good for cleaning your eyes if you damage them. It has no dyes or artificial colors and scents, so it stings for a bit, but doesn't hurt afterwards like other soaps.

If you can't find this at Whole Foods, try looking for fragrance free soap at the store, and make sure it's clear. You can also double check the back of the bottle to make sure nothing is in it other than soap. However, it being clear is a good sign it's safe. Or any soap that says it's for sensitive skin might work too.
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I HAVE A CURE FOR THIS- I do this as well. Wow we are all a bit stressed. But I must say that for the people picking their cats eyes- this is animal abuse and you should be ashamed of yourselves. That is awful to subject a pet to this. Look into that and get some therapy before hurting any animals, god. Upsetting. Anyway, on to the cure- after doing this for over 16 years, nothing has helped me more than an eye drop that I now put in my left eye after i find myself picking at it and getting the mucus out. It discusts me but i look forward to that feeling of getting it. - its like a release of emotion or a feeling that takes over your whole mind. - THE CURE IS PUTTING IN THESE DROPS CALLED - NAPHCON A EYE ALLERGY RELIEF- http://www.amazon.com/Alcon-Naphcon-A-Allergy-Relief-Drops/dp/B000GG5UEO Seriously this stuff makes the red completely go away and it gives you eye a cooling feeling that has led me to stop because it feels so good / cold / and clearing. sort of like an angel putting a hand over your eye. I for one am done punishing myself and being stressed about this. If I find myself doing it- so what. I will just put some drops in, focus on positive things and get my mind off of it. We need to love ourselves more and let go of anxiety. Today is a new day! Get up, get out and lets stop torturing ourselves for crying out loud!
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I pick my eyes too mostly at night. I want so bad to quit but everytime I get bored, I resort right back to it. Playing with the mucus and stretching it to then rubbing it together between my index & thumb fingers. *sigh*
Whag I want to kniw is if there are any longer term effects to doing this. Is it harmful to the eye. I have noticed deeper bags under my eyes from pulling my bottom eyelid down all the time. I also see halos (a sparkling kinda ring going around my iris like lighting a sparkler for the 4th of July) it starts at one point kind of sparkling and goes all the way around my iris in a circle back to that one point it started. Like the ring. Does anyone else experience this?
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michael4p5
well i only get them eye strings and i pluck um out with my fingers sometimes they are long and tickle my eye when they are coming out
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I too pick the mucus or what ever it is out of my eyes. I can feel it in there. It feels like if I could just get this one it will be better but then I see another one. Sometimes lately it hasn't been the sleep goo, it's a different texture it is under the top eye lid deep. I thought it was big eye boogie and if I could just get that it would be better. Well I got it and it was totally different it doesn't slide it kind of pulls or tears (not painful) it feels good to get it out. But by time you get it out you see another one then check the other eye. I have had to miss work due to my eyes being so swollen. Last week I missed Thursday and Friday bc my eyes were so bad from me picking at them. When I wake up they are stuck together and swollen. I need a warm wash cloth to melt the hard crust away and then into the bathroom mirror I go to get the sleep out and get a shower and hope for the swelling and redness to go away and I go to work, but if they are too bad I stay home and when my man leaves for work and the kids go to school, I could stand in the mirror for hours and get stuff out of my eyes. Then they are more red and puffy and I hope noone stops bye and then follow with eye wash, eye drops. Hot rag, cold compres! It is crazy! I am allergic to cats and we have a cat so I always so it's from the cat but I know its not. My man is always saying get out of the mirror stop picking your eyes you are going to make them worse. I get so aggravated, I always say can't I have 5 minutes to myself in the bathroom. He keeps saying we are getting rid of the cat! NO WE ARE NOT! I never thought of it as that big of a deal or problem until the most recent bout when I missed two days of work. My right eye was so swollen on Friday I almost went to the hosptial I coulldn't close it! But I got through the week end trying not to touch it! Got to work Monday by noon, I couldn't leave my eye alone, I was embarrassed to make eye contact with anyone in my office. I left and went to my eye doctor. I had to be put on steroids and he gave me eye drops with a steroid and antibiotic. I told him I wasn't sure if something got in my eye - maybe a cat hair whatever. Then my eyes cleared up for a few days yesterday. I was back at it. Today is a new day they are a bit blurry but I was able to wear make up today and so far at 10:21am I haven't touched them! I am trying to stop! If it is causing me to miss work and go to the doctor it is obvious it is a problem.
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well I did great for about 4 months and then on Sunday night I started again and guess what I had to miss Monday and Tuesday due to my eyes being swelled. I HATE it and they my right eye is so soar
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Weeelllll!! At 75 years of age I can declare that I am an habitual eyepicker and have been from since I was around 14. Like others I feel compelled to stretch my "victory" to see how long it is. My eyes are always itchy, sometimes gravelly and my vision is blurred a lot of the time, when the vision blurs I know it's time to go to work getting rid of "my string". I have been to optometrists about it and all I've been told is "I know what that is" and then they change of subject. Off my own bat I started using Systane eye drops for dry eyes and this has given me much relief and even stops the string forming until I forget to use them. I give my eyes 1 drop each about 4 or 5 times a day initially until after a day or so when the strings disappear, then drop it to when I feel the need. That works fine until the age bit creeps in and I forget to do it. For me, I believe my problem started with dry eyes as a kid and as picking them seemed to bring relief, I just continued doing that until it became a habit (one which after so long is almost impossible to get rid of permanently).
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I've had this problem for 7 years and it recently got better! My dog got treated for her skin condition and most of the itchiness in my eyes went away at the same time. My eyes are still dry but the itchiness was mostly what caused me to touch them. I haven't rubbed my eyes in several days and the mucus is coming out much thinner and less. My eyes are clear for most of the day. The mucus isn't as thick and plentiful and persistent as it was in the past. The best advice I can give you is what I've always heard and didn't believed would work: stop picking! Other things you should try is to not stare at a computer screen for too long and at too close a distance, blink a lot, get your allergies, dry eyes or ocd treated, and close your eyes for awhile if it gets too dry. Good luck everyone! I know you can do it.
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Hi guys I am an eye picker too, First time I have the encourage to look up online and this time I really want to get rid off this habit. I started with pulling my eyebrows and eyelashes and followed by picking my eye and all together it has been 17years. It is like a joke, I started when I was 17 and always hided this from people as I was too ashamed to share. I went to psychologist once she didn't even talked to me properly and gave me a seratonin syrup and gave me a homework, asked me to write down how many times a day and how long each time I do this. I didn't do take the medicine and never went to any helping session again. I expected help from my parents, I was very aware of that I was harming myself and too thick to get professional help. My parents blamed me as if I was doing this to get attention from them. I went to a few eye specialists, I have been using tears naturel eye drops, as a relief side I can recommend you to use eye ointments before you sleep, they are like creams you use inside your lower eyelid, also when you feel urge you can wash your eyes under warm water with Johnson's baby shampoo, because it is tear free formula I think it is safe, wearing gloves can be another solution. You can find cotton thin fabric gloves in pound shops. Also putting cream on my hands helps sometimes, when I have cream on my hands I am more controlled to not pick my eyes. I have brownish little blots each of my eyes near to the iris and I really worry about loosing my eyes. Also the white part of the eye, the thin skin is wrinkled. Has anyone had that experience?
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