Why do people wake up with dry eye in the morning, and what can be done to alleviate this issue?
Dry eye in the morning typically results from inadequate tear production or accelerated tear film evaporation. Why does this occur more frequently during the night?
Nocturnal lagophthalmos, the inability to fully close the eyelids during sleep, often leads to dry eye in the morning. It is associated with weakness in the seventh cranial nerve due to several potential causes:
Incomplete eyelid closure exposes the eyes to air, disrupting the tear film's continuity, leading to dry eyes upon waking up.
A 2020 study revealed nocturnal lagophthalmos not only instigates dry eye in the morning but also deteriorates sleep quality. It was found that overstimulation of Muller's muscle, responsible for keeping the eye open, can trigger this condition.
Several groups are more susceptible to experiencing nocturnal lagophthalmos, and thus, dry eye in the morning:
Addressing dry eye in the morning involves effective strategies such as:
Relaxing activities, like the warm bath, can increase your parasympathetic activity, which regulates the “rest and digest” function and decreases sympathetic activity prior to falling asleep. This may also reduce the stimulation of the Muller’s muscle.
Taping the eyelids closed physically keeps your eyes covered, which should help keep them better lubricated.
Artificial tears can also be a viable option to manage symptoms of dry eye in the morning.
While nocturnal lagophthalmos is a common cause, there are several other factors that can lead to dry eye in the morning:
Remember, managing these factors can help reduce the incidence of dry eye in the morning.
If you experience dry eye upon waking up, it is likely caused by nocturnal lagophthalmos. In addition to the suggestions listed above, a doctor can provide you with additional guidance on what to do to treat and resolve this issue. If you’d like to schedule an appointment for a consultation you can reach out to your nearest Amplify EyeCare practice either via a call or in-person visit. Our team of eye care professionals is ready and equipped to provide you with the care you need.