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Home » Dry Eye » Why is My Dry Eye More Severe in the Mornings?

Why is My Dry Eye More Severe in the Mornings?

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Waking up in the morning can be hard enough, but waking up with stinging, burning eyes is even worse! If your eyes feel itchy and scratchy, this miserable morning sensation may be caused by Dry Eye Syndrome. Your tear glands may be clogged or producing insufficient tears and oils to retain moisture.

But why do certain people experience more acute dry eye symptoms in the mornings? Here are some reasons:

What Causes Red, Itchy or Painful Eyes Upon Waking?

Nocturnal Lagophthalmos

Nocturnal lagophthalmos is the inability to close one’s eyelids completely during sleep. You may not even realize this is happening.  Since the surface of your eye is exposed at night, it becomes dry. Left untreated, this condition can damage your cornea.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition of the eyes caused by bacterial overgrowth. These bacteria are active at night, causing dry eye-related symptoms of redness, soreness and irritation upon waking.  The eye is a perfect medium for bacteria to grow at night: it is warm, moist, and dark.

Environment

A gritty sensation in your eyes can also be caused by the environment. For example, sleeping directly in front of or under an air vent, heating units, or ceiling fans can dry out your eyes. In addition, sensitivity to allergens like dust that accumulate in the bedroom can cause your eyes to become dry and irritated.

Medications

Some types of over-the-counter and prescription medication can dehydrate the eyes. These include:

  • Antihistamines and decongestants
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Medications for High Blood Pressure
  • Hormones
  • Drugs for gastrointestinal problems
  • Pain relievers
  • Skin medications
  • Chemotherapy medications
  • Oral Contraceptives

In the majority of cases, medication-related dry eye symptoms will resolve once you discontinue the meds. However, it may take several weeks or months for symptoms to completely disappear.  But some medications that need to be taken can’t be discontinued.  In those cases we must address the symptoms that are produced by those medications.

Age

Many people develop dry eye symptoms with age, as tear production tends to decrease and becomes less efficient as we grow older.  This becomes particularly true before, during, and after menopause.

How to Treat Morning Dry Eye

Depending on the cause, morning dry eye can be treated with sleeping masks, lubricating eye drops and ointment applied right before bed. To ensure that you sleep in a moisture-rich environment, consider using a humidifier. In severe cases of nocturnal lagophthalmos, eyelid surgery may be necessary.  At times we need to prescribe oral medications to counteract the side effects of the medications you are taking.  Punctal plugs, Amniotic tissue, and Blephex often give positive benefits when the simple solutions fail.

If you are tired of waking up to red, burning eyes, visit our office for long-lasting relief. Contact Family Eye Care to determine the cause of your morning dry eye and receive an effective treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Moshe Roth

Q: What causes dry eye?

  • A: Dry eye can occur if the glands in your eyelids don’t produce enough oil to keep your tears from evaporating, or if you don’t produce enough water for healthy tears. It can occur when the glands are capped and the lubricating oil can’t get out.  This can cause those glands to die.  No matter the cause, it’s important to have your condition diagnosed and treated to protect your vision and ensure good eye health.

Q: Can dry eye be cured?

  • A: Dry eye is a chronic condition that has many factors; environmental, computer use, side effects of certain medications, age, etc. We have many treatment methods to help you manage this condition for long-term relief. If you have dry eye syndrome, we invite you to contact us to discover the best treatment for your needs.

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Family Eye Care serves patients from Old Bridge, East Brunswick, Woodbridge and Edison, all throughout New Jersey.

 


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