You may wonder what the solution is when you wake up with dry eyes. The truth is—the dry eye treatment for you depends on your unique needs.
Warm compresses, eyelid washing, lifestyle changes, limiting screen time, and visiting your eye doctor are some ways you can help prevent dry eyes in the morning.
Why Are You Waking Up with Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes occur when your tears cannot effectively hydrate your eyes, leading to irritation and discomfort. Your tears experience problems when issues arise in the tear film, 3 layers (oil, water, and mucus) that work together to keep your eyes moist and protected.
You may wake up with dry eyes due to the typical root causes or another condition known as nocturnal lagophthalmos.
- Inadequate tear production: Tear production can slow down due to age, medications, or medical conditions, leading to dry and irritated eyes.
- Increased tear evaporation: Issues with the meibomian glands (the glands providing oil to the tear film) can lead to dry eyes because your tears evaporate too quickly.
- Nocturnal lagophthalmos: Nocturnal lagophthalmos is a condition where your eyes don’t fully close when you sleep, leading to dryness. This condition occurs due to issues with your facial nerves.
5 Tips to Address Dry Eyes When You Wake Up
Preventing dry eyes in the morning involves addressing the root cause of your symptoms. You have several ways to treat dry eyes, whether you’re treating them at home or with help from your optometrist.
These 5 tips can help you wake up with clearer and more comfortable vision.
Tip #1: Use a Warm Compress
Warm compresses can help treat clogged meibomian glands and improve dry eye symptoms. As simple as soaking a cloth in warm water, this treatment helps hydrate the eyes, unclog your meibomian glands, improve swelling, and relieve discomfort.
You can make an at-home compress by following these steps:
- Fill a bowl with warm water.
- Thoroughly soak a washcloth in the bowl.
- Remove the cloth from the water and wring away any excess moisture.
- Fold the washcloth to an appropriate size and lay it on your eyes for 10 to 15 minutes.
Tip #2: Make Lifestyle Changes
Your lifestyle can factor into dry eye development—something simple like living in a dry climate can increase your risk. A few lifestyle changes can help prevent irritated eyes when you wake up.
Try some of these potential dry eye remedies:
- Drink enough water (at least 8 glasses a day) to stay hydrated
- Use a humidifier to help add moisture to the air
- Invest in an air filter to remove eye-irritating irritants
Tip #3: Follow the 20-20-20 Rule
People spend more time than ever working on digital devices like their phones, laptops, or tablets. While these devices are necessary for everyday life, they can lead to dry eyes. Focusing on digital screens for long periods can lead to digital eye strain.
Many patients blink less frequently when using the computer, which can irritate and worsen dry eyes. Remembering to blink is vital for preventing discomfort when working or watching something on your digital devices. One way to help remember to blink and rest your eyes is the 20-20-20 rule.
When following the 20-20-20 rule, you take a 20-second break every 20 minutes, looking outside or at an object at least 20 feet away. Regular breaks can help your eyes focus on something other than a screen.
Tip #4: Wash Your Eyelids
Eyelid scrubs can help keep your eyes clean and help prevent dryness in the morning. Washing the eyelids helps reduce inflammation and wash away bacteria.
You can buy over-the-counter eyelid scrubs, or your eye doctor can recommend one to help keep your eyes clean.
Tip #5: Visit Your Eye Doctor
Identifying the cause of your dry eye symptoms alone can be difficult. Visiting your optometrist can help—they can recommend a customized treatment plan after completing an eye exam.
In more severe cases of dry eye, in-office treatments are available to help improve your symptoms.
Don’t Start Your Day with Dry Eyes
Nobody enjoys dry eyes, especially right when you wake up. You can help prevent dry eyes in the morning by visiting your eye doctor.