If your eyes regularly feel dry when you wake up in the morning, it’s important to know why. Inflammation, age, medications and environmental factors can all dry out your eyes and cause other symptoms, such as a burning sensation in or around the eyes.
To identify the cause and relieve your dry eye symptoms, schedule an eye exam with Dr. Michael Gowen at EYES on Main in Blacksburg. Pinpointing the underlying problem is the first step toward waking up in comfort.
What Can Cause Dry Eyes in the Morning?
If you can’t close your eyes fully at night, you may have nocturnal lagophthalmos, which can result from problems with the muscles that control your eyelids, a deformity in the eyelid tissue or partial facial paralysis.
More severe types of lagophthalmos can cause dry eyes during the day as well. With this condition, the eye dries out because the eyelids can’t close fully. This leaves the front of the eye constantly exposed to the air, resulting in excessive evaporation of the tears. If left untreated, any form of lagophthalmos can eventually damage the cornea, resulting in vision loss.
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids caused by the malfunctioning of the meibomian glands. The meibomian glands are located inside the eyelids and secrete oils into the tears that lubricate the eye and create a protective barrier on the surface of the eye, minimizing tear evaporation.
Blepharitis most often occurs when these glands become clogged or the oil becomes thickened. The main symptoms are inflamed, dry, red and sore eyes. These symptoms may be worse in the morning because not blinking at night results in the glands becoming more blocked, and the vital oil layer of the tears dissipates while you sleep.
Many types of medication can cause the eyes to feel dry, particularly in the morning. These include:
- Antipsychotics and antidepressants
- Antihistamines and decongestants
- Hypertension medications
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Gastrointestinal medications
- Pain relievers
- Skin treatments
- Chemotherapy medications
With age, the eyes produce less moisture and oils and tend to dry out more quickly. As a result, the eyes may become dry, red and itchy. In particular, women going through menopause may notice dry eye symptoms due to hormonal fluctuations.
When people get older, their eyelids may also become more flaccid and fall away from the eyes. This leads to watery tears running out of the eyes more easily, further reducing the volume of the tears.
External factors such as air-conditioning and heating units can dry out your eyes, especially if the units are located in your bedroom or if you sleep under a ceiling fan.
Other external factors that can exacerbate dry eyes include air temperature and humidity, pollution and windy conditions.
How do I know if I have dry eye? | EYES on Main
How to Relieve Morning Dry Eye Symptoms
How to relieve morning dry eye symptoms will depend on the cause.
One of the main treatments for dry eyes focuses on relieving dryness by stimulating the production of oil from the eyelid’s glands.
Your eye doctor may prescribe an ointment to apply before retiring and lubricating eye drops in the morning. Eyelid treatments involving the gentle application of heat and massage can also help the meibomian glands work more efficiently by increasing the release of oil into the tears.
Consider using a humidifier to make the air in your bedroom more comfortable, and wearing a sleeping mask to retain eye moisture.
These tips may provide some relief, but it is essential to schedule an eye exam with
Dr. Michael Gowen at EYES on Main in Blacksburg to determine the precise cause of your dry eye symptoms and receive the appropriate treatment.
- A: LASIK surgery corrects vision by reshaping the cornea. This procedure involves making an incision that may damage the superficial nerves of the eye. As a result, the nerves of the eyes may not realize the eyes are dry, and therefore not stimulate the required secretion of tears. The result can be dry eyes.
- A: While nothing can replace the advice of your eye doctor, eating oily fish, flaxseeds, and other foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids can stimulate oil production in the eyes. Try applying warm compresses to your eyes and gently massaging your eyelids to unclog the meibomian glands. Protective eyewear, such as wraparound eyeglasses, helps block irritants and retain lubrication. Use a humidifier to moisten the air in your home. Applying eye drops regularly can also help prevent your eyes from drying out.
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