Dry eyes are a common yet frustrating issue for approximately 6.7% of U.S. adults. This condition can make it difficult to sleep at night and hard to open your eyes when you wake up in the morning. What causes dry eyes? There are several reasons why someone may experience this problem. It is essential to determine what is causing your dry eye symptoms before trying any remedies or treatments that may not work.
What are Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes are when the eye doesn’t produce enough tears to keep it moist. There can be countless reasons for dry eyes, such as certain medicines, genetics, or health conditions like diabetes that may contribute to this issue.
The most common symptom of dry eye is a feeling of itchiness in your eyes. This happens because, without proper lubrication from tears, there will not be adequate moisture on your eyelids – which causes them to become irritated and feel like they need some kind of relief.
Other symptoms include:
- Burning sensation
- Blurred vision
- Swollen eyes
What is Dry Eye Disease?
Dry eye disease is when you have insufficient production of tears or a reduction in the quality and quantity of those produced. This is often considered a chronic condition, whereas occasional dry eye symptoms are considered an acute condition.
This can happen because your glands are producing less tears due to inflammation or injury, or that they’re not functioning well enough to produce quality tears.
Decreased tear production could also be caused by certain medicines like antihistamines, which constrict blood vessels and make it harder for tears to reach their destination.
There’s no cure for dry eye disease, but there are many treatment methods available. Prescription eye drops like Restasis or Soothe work by helping your body produce more natural, soothing tears.
Eye creams and ointments can also help prevent dry eyes at night through their hydrating properties. They’re formulated with ingredients that mimic the healthy oils found in our tear films, such as omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, lycopene, and aloe vera, to name a few.
Avoiding alcohol consumption is another useful tip for how to keep your eyes from drying out at night. That’s because drinking alcohol can cause blood vessels around the eyes to shrink, leading to less moisture production
Common Causes for Dry Eyes
The first step in keeping your eyes from drying out at night is figuring out what caused them to get so dried out in the first place. There are many reasons why this might happen, and it’s essential that you identify which one applies best to you before trying any treatments or techniques you may come across.
The most common causes of dry eyes include:
- Your eyes are not producing enough natural tears
- You’re suffering from a chronic autoimmune disorder such as Sjogren’s Syndrome, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis
- You have dry eye syndrome, which is caused by low humidity and temperature in the air
- You’ve been using contact lenses or eye drops for a long time without rest
If you’re simply not sure what is causing your dry eye symptoms, then the best thing to do is monitor and track your symptoms and present them to your eye doctor. That way, they can give you a more definitive answer.
What Causes Dry Eyes at Night Only?
Now, if your dry eye symptoms are only occurring at night, then you need to identify what could be triggering it. It could be that you’re lying in a position that is causing the eyes to become dry and inflamed, such as sleeping with your face smashed into a pillow.
Another possibility would be non-organic eyelid hygiene products (eye makeup remover wipes), because they can leave behind artificial oils or chemicals on the skin next to the tear ducts when used at night. It could also mean not drinking enough water before bedtime, or there being a lack of humidity in the air at night.
Of course, one common potential cause of chronic nighttime eye irritation that many don’t think of is the possibility of an allergy or sensitivity reaction due to contact lens use. If this is the case, make sure you use hypoallergenic contact lenses and avoid wearing your contacts while sleeping.
Finally, patients may suffer from dry eyes at night simply due to a lack of sleep. In this case, be sure to practice good sleep habits, such as having a regular nighttime routine and removing any potential distractions from your room to ensure a restful night’s sleep.
5 Tips on How to Keep Your Eyes From Drying Out at Night
If you suffer from chronic dry eye symptoms at night, then you should consult your eye doctor and ask them for tips on how to keep your eyes from drying out at night. In the meantime, you can give one of these five tips a shot:
1. Try Wearing a Sleep Mask
If your symptoms are brought on by lack of sleep in the first place, then you may want to try wearing a sleep mask that blocks out light and doesn’t allow you to touch your eyes while you’re trying to fall asleep. This will help block dry eye symptoms at night caused by excessive exposure to the sun, wind, or air conditioning.
It will also help your eyes to retain their natural moisture more easily, preventing them from drying out as you sleep.
2. Use an Antihistamine
If allergies bring on your symptoms, then you can try using an antihistamine before bed. This will help reduce the inflammation and swelling in the eye that causes dry eyes at night.
The most common side effects of these medicines are drowsiness or dizziness – so it’s essential to use them sparingly if you don’t need them for allergy relief. If you don’t have any of these side effects, then it may be worth trying your prescription antihistamines first thing in the morning instead of the last thing at night. This way, the medication has several hours to really kick in.
3. Avoid Harsh Chemicals/Cleansers at Night
For those with hypersensitive skin around their eyes, avoid using harsh cleansers on your face during nighttime routines. Choose gentle products instead, like lotions and creams, which won’t irritate the delicate area around your eyes.
To prevent dry eyes at night, try to minimize exposure to harsh chemicals and find products labeled for sensitive skin.
4. Give Artificial Tears a Try
Adding artificial tears into your weekly routine as part of regular daytime moisturizing practices may be a great way to alleviate your nighttime dry eye symptoms. This will allow them the opportunity to be absorbed through the day and work overnight too.
You might also want to attempt using artificial tears (or just regular water) while bathing at night if you need moisture for soothing relief from nighttime dryness.
5. Open Your Eyes Up Wide Every Morning
In the morning, open your eyes as soon as you wake up. This will help avoid dry eye symptoms like a gritty feeling or having trouble opening your eyelids.
Take Proper Care of Your Eyes
People who suffer from these symptoms must find relief as soon as possible. If left untreated, the problem could worsen over time and lead to other, more severe health conditions such as cysts on eyelids or even corneal abrasions – which can also affect one’s quality of life. So, if your dry eye symptoms are new or worsening, make sure to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor right away.