Everything About Mucus Fishing Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments

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What Is Mucus Fishing Syndrome?
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What Is Mucus Fishing Syndrome?
Mucus fishing syndrome is when a person excessively picks at their conjunctiva to remove the mucus.

Causes Of Mucus Fishing Syndrome
- Dry Eye syndrome
- Allergies
- Conjunctivitis
- Blepharitis
- Dacryocystitis
Body-focused Repetitive Behavior (BFRB) Disorder

Symptoms Of Mucus Fishing Syndrome?
- Itchiness in the eye
- Redness in the eye
- Irritation
- Tear production
- A feeling of something stuck in the eye
- Inflammation
- Blurry vision
- Mild pain

Treatments For Mucus Fishing Syndrome
- Eye drops
- Antibiotics
- Oral medications
- Therapy
- Surgery (in severe cases)

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Mucus Fishing Syndrome (MFS) is a rare eye problem where a person can't stop themselves from picking or wiping away the mucus from their eyes. It's like they're "fishing" for the mucus using their fingers or something else.

In simpler words, if someone has MFS, they might feel a really strong urge to keep touching or rubbing their eyes. But doing this can hurt their eyes and cause pain, redness, and other issues.

MFS is often linked to other eye problems like conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye) or dry eye. In this article, we'll talk about what causes Mucus Fishing Syndrome, its symptoms, and how it can be treated.

A woman showing someone her eye

What is mucus fishing syndrome?

Imagine if you couldn't resist the urge to keep picking at the mucus in your eyes. Well, that's what Mucus Fishing Syndrome is all about. It happens when a person just can't stop themselves from trying to remove the mucus from their eyes, usually by picking at the conjunctiva (the outer layer of the eye).

The reason behind this constant picking is that the person's eyes might be making too much mucus due to allergies, infections, or dry eye issues. But here's the problem – when you keep picking at your eyes like this, it can make the conjunctiva get all red and irritated. And if it gets really bad, it can even cause ulcers, which are painful sores.

So, it's essential to resist the temptation to keep picking at your eyes if you ever feel like you have Mucus Fishing Syndrome. It's better to get help from a doctor to find out the real cause and get the right treatment.

Causes of mucus fishing syndrome

Causes of mucus fishing syndrome table

Mucus fishing syndrome happens when our eyes produce too much mucus because of allergies or infections. Allergies can be triggered by things like dust, pollen, smoke, or pet dander, leading to something called allergic conjunctivitis. Infections, on the other hand, are caused by tiny organisms like bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

Now, here's something interesting about our eyes. Inside our eyelids and covering the front part of our eyes, there's a thin tissue called the conjunctiva. It's like a protective layer that keeps our eyes safe and moist. [1]

The conjunctiva contains goblet cells that produce eye mucus. The function of the mucus is to keep the eye's surface lubricated and moist.

But in most cases, the conjunctiva may get damaged due to certain irritants like dust, smoke, or chemicals. Variable humidity, temperature variations, ultraviolet radiation, and cosmetics can also affect the eye. [2]

This damage can lead to excess mucus production, accumulating in the conjunctiva and forming a sticky crust over the eye's surface. This crust is what we call 'mucus fishing syndrome.

The patient may experience irritation, burning, and itching sensation in the eyes. It can also lead to visual impairment.

In some cases, mucus fishing syndrome may also be caused by certain medications like corticosteroids or antihistamines. It may also be a complication of illnesses like cancer, thyroid issues, or diabetes.

Here are some conditions that can cause your eye to produce more mucus.

Dry eye syndrome

This occurs when the eye does not produce enough tears or when the tears are not consistent. This can lead to redness, itching, burning, and a feeling of sand in the eye.

The National Eye Institute states that dry eye syndrome can happen due to medications, aging, medical conditions, or environmental factors such as dry air or wind. [3]


Seasonal allergies or allergic reactions to cosmetics, dust, pollen, and dander can also cause your eyes to water and produce excess mucus.

Fun Fact

Some people believe that smokable herbs can help with Mucus Fishing Syndrome, but there's no scientific evidence to support this claim!


Imagine if your eye turned pink and got all swollen and gooey. Well, that's what conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is all about. It happens when the conjunctiva, which is like a clear covering over the white part of your eye, gets all inflamed.

There are different reasons why this can happen. Sometimes it's because of viruses or germs, like when you catch a cold or the flu. Other times, it could be because of allergens, like pollen or pet dander, or even irritants in the air.

The symptoms of pink eye are pretty noticeable. Your eye will become all red and swollen, and there might be some yucky discharge coming out of it too. [4]

If you ever get pink eye, don't worry! It's usually not too serious, and it can go away on its own or with some help from a doctor. Just remember to take care of your eyes and avoid rubbing them to prevent the spread of pink eye to others.


Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. It can be caused by a bacterial infection, allergies, or skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis. Symptoms include redness, itching, burning, and flaking skin around the eyes.


Dacryocystitis is a condition that occurs when the tear ducts become blocked and infected. The tear duct is a small canal that drains the eye's tears into the nose. When the vent is blocked, it can lead to excessive tear production.

Afterward, the tears can build up in the eye and cause inflammation. Dacryocystitis, is typically caused by an obstruction within the nasolacrimal duct. Symptoms of dacryocystitis include redness and swelling in the eye, pain, and discharge from the eye. [5]

Body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) disorder

Mucus fishing syndrome is a body-focused, repetitive behavior disorder (BFRB). BFRBs are conditions that involve the repetitive and intentional act of damaging or manipulating the hair, skin, or nails. [6]

People with BFRBs often feel a strong urge to perform the behavior and may feel relief or pleasure. However, BFRBs can also cause distress and interfere with daily life.

Symptoms of mucus fishing syndrome?

The most common symptom of mucus fishing syndrome is the presence of stringy mucus in the affected eye. Other symptoms may include:

  • itchiness in the eye
  • redness in the eye
  • irritation
  • tear production
  • a feeling of something stuck in the eye
  • inflammation
  • blurry vision
  • mild pain

How is mucus fishing syndrome diagnosed?

If you have any symptoms above, you should see your doctor or an ophthalmologist (an eye care specialist). Your doctor will likely inquire about your symptoms and medical history. They may also perform a physical examination of your eyes.

They may also need to dilate your pupils to get a better view of the back of your eye( funduscopic exam). Dilating your pupils will make your eyes more sensitive to light.

Your doctor may also use a cotton bud or other tool to remove any mucus that they see in your eye. After your doctor has examined your eyes, they will likely order one or more tests. These tests may include:

  • A vision test: This test will help your doctor determine if your vision has been affected by the mucus in your eyes.
  • A visual field test: This test will help your doctor determine if the mucus has affected your peripheral vision.
  • A pachymetry: This test measures the thickness of your cornea. This is important because the mucus can cause the cornea to swell, leading to vision problems.
  • A slit-lamp examination: This test allows your doctor to look at your eyes under a special microscope. This can help them see the mucus and determine if it is causing any problems.

In some cases, your doctor may refer you to an allergist—a specialist in diagnosing and treating allergies. Allergists can perform skin tests to see if you're allergic to a particular substance. They can also perform blood tests to check for allergies.

Treatments for mucus fishing syndrome infographic

Treatments for mucus fishing syndrome

No single treatment for mucus fishing syndrome exists because different factors can cause the condition. The best treatment for mucus fishing syndrome will vary depending on the case.

For example, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the condition is caused by an eye infection. The antibiotics will help clear the infection and reduce the mucus produced. Avoiding the allergen may be recommended if the condition is caused by environmental allergies.

In addition to treating the underlying cause of your condition, you may also need to use artificial tears or lubricating ointments to help relieve your symptoms. If you have a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eyedrops. Allergic conjunctivitis is treated with antihistamine eye drops or oral antihistamines. [7]

On the other hand, viral conjunctivitis usually resolves on its own within two to three weeks. [8]

A zoomed in image of a woman's eye

Overall, the best treatment for mucus fishing syndrome is to stop fishing the mucus. This may sound obvious, but it can be challenging to break the habit. If you've started mucus fishing on a regular basis, talk to your doctor. They can help you find ways to break the habit and treat the underlying cause of your condition.

A report from the National Library of Medicine, Mucus Fishing Syndrome describes a 30-year-old man diagnosed with mucus fishing syndrome. Several times a day, he would mechanically remove mucus from his eyes. This only worsened the situation. After being diagnosed, his condition resolved within a month of stopping the habit and having a course of topical antibiotics and steroids. [9]

Here are some potential treatments for mucus fishing syndrome:

Short Video

Bottom line

Mucus fishing syndrome is a condition that can be both annoying and painful. If you think you may have mucus fishing syndrome, you must see an eye doctor or other medical professional for a proper diagnosis. Treatment will vary depending on the severity of your symptoms. But with appropriate treatment, you can manage this condition and live a normal life.


What Are The Symptoms Of MFS?

Symptoms of MFS include Conjunctival hyperemia (redness), Mucus discharge, Itching, Eye pain, and Blurry vision.

What Causes MFS?

The exact cause of MFS is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by an overproduction of mucus in the conjunctiva. This excess mucus can build up and block the drainage channels in the eye, leading to MFS.

Is There A Cure For Mucus Fishing Syndrome?

There is no cure for MFS, but treatments are available to help manage the symptoms. Treatments include Artificial tears, Ocular lubricants, Antihistamines, and Corticosteroids.


  1. NIH: Anatomy, Head and Neck, Eye Conjunctiva
  2. SSRN: Impact of Environmental Factors on Eye Health
  3. National Eye Institute: "What is dry eye?"
  4. National Eye Institute: What is pink eye?
  5. National Library Of Medicine: Dacryocystitis
  6. Research Gate: Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors
  7. The National Library Of Medicine, Treating Allergic Conjunctivitis
  8. Centers Of Disease Control And Prevention: Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
  9. National Library of Medicine: Mucus Fishing Syndrome

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