Waking up can be difficult enough, but when you open your eyes to dryness and irritation, it can be frustrating and uncomfortable. Understanding why it’s happening before you even start your day can be particularly challenging. Your dry eye may be caused by several factors, including your environment or allergies to underlying health conditions or medications.
During your comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist can help diagnose and manage the underlying causes of your dry eye so you can wake up with fresh eyes.
What Causes Dry Eye in the Morning?
Dry eyes can come with a range of symptoms, including:
- Blurry vision
- Burning or stinging
- Feeling like something is in your eye
- Sensitivity to light
Identifying the cause of your dry eye is the initial step to finding a treatment that can help.
One of the most common reasons why people wake up with dry eyes is due to their environment. Sleeping with air conditioning or heating on can cause the air in your bedroom to become dry, which sucks the moisture out of your eyes.
Other environmental factors contributing to dry eyes include smoke, wind, dust exposure, or dry climate.
Allergies can cause eye inflammation and irritation, leading to dry, scratchy eyes and excessive watering. If you suffer from allergies, you may find your symptoms are worse in the morning after a night’s sleep, when your eyes may be more sensitive to allergens.
Certain medications can also cause dry eyes as a side effect. These include:
- High blood pressure medication
- Hormonal birth control
Acne medication, over-the-counter pain relievers, and nasal decongestants can all contribute to dry eyes, so it’s important to talk to your optometrist about your medication regimen during your eye exam.
Some eye conditions can cause dry eyes:
- Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid caused by bacteria, allergies, or skin conditions.
- Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) occurs when the oil-secreting glands on the eyelid margin become blocked, leading to evaporative dry eye disease and ocular surface discomfort.
These conditions can cause inflammation in the eye’s tissues, dryness, and discomfort. If you suspect you have an eye condition, speak with your eye doctor. They can offer a diagnosis and treatment.
Lagophthalmos prevents you from fully closing your eyes, and nocturnal lagophthalmos happens while you sleep. While this condition isn’t typically dangerous, it can cause symptoms like:
- Foreign body sensation
- Excessive tearing
- Dryness and irritation upon waking up
Those with this condition typically suffer from impairment to their cranial nerve that controls the eyelid or eyelid damage from trauma or medical conditions.
Treatments for Morning Dry Eye
Your optometrist can recommend treatments to target the root cause of your dry eye with in-office methods or take-home remedies.
BlephEx is a noninvasive procedure used to clean the eyelids and eyelashes from the bacteria buildup characteristic of blepharitis. The process uses a handheld device that rotates a small, medical-grade sponge along the base of the eyelashes to remove debris and bacteria.
The treatment not only helps treat morning dry eyes but can also help prevent future complications, including styes.
Prescription Eye Drops
If your morning dry eye is due to an underlying medical condition such as autoimmune disorders or allergies, your eye doctor may prescribe special eye drops to help manage your symptoms. Several prescription eye drops are available, each designed to treat specific symptoms or conditions.
Your eye doctor will evaluate your symptoms and recommend the most appropriate eye drops.
Punctal plugs are rice-sized, biocompatible devices inserted into the tear ducts to reduce tear drainage. Punctal plugs help retain tears and improve eye moisture. They’re an effective treatment for morning dry eye and can be combined with other therapies, such as eye drops.
Several home remedies can help alleviate the symptoms of morning dry eye, including:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Applying a warm compress to the eyes
- Using over-the-counter lubricating eye drops
Additionally, using a humidifier in your bedroom can increase the moisture levels in the air and prevent dryness.
Wake Up Feeling Refreshed
Morning dry eye can impact your quality of life. We offer a range of treatment options to help support healthy, comfortable eyes at Advance Eye Care Center.
If you have morning dry eye, book an appointment in Regina for a comprehensive eye exam and assessment. We can help you wake up to comfort and start your day with healthy, moisturized eyes.