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Reasons Why You Keep Waking Up With Dry Eyes

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A young man lying in bed rubbing his eyes with his hands.

Waking up to dry and irritated eyes can be really frustrating and uncomfortable. It can also make starting your day on the right foot difficult. But what’s causing this issue? It turns out that there are several reasons why people tend to wake up with dry eyes.

Morning dry eye can develop because of a dry environment, medical conditions, not blinking enough, contact lens wear, or dehydration. But these conditions can be managed, and your optometrist can offer solutions like intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy or radiofrequency (RF) treatment.

Why Are You Waking Up with Dry Eye?

If you immediately open your eyes in the morning and experience dry eye symptoms, it can result from various reasons.

Your Environment Is Dry

If your bedroom is too dry, that can cause your eyes to become dry and irritated, too. This is especially true if you use air conditioning or heat at night. Dry air tends to suck up moisture, which can leave your eyes feeling parched.

To fix this, try adding a humidifier to your bedroom. This will add moisture to the air and help keep your eyes from drying out.

You Have a Medical Condition

Dry eyes can be a sign of an underlying medical condition, including:

  • Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Graves’ disease

Autoimmune disorders can affect your body’s ability to produce tears and saliva. If you think you might have a medical condition causing your dry eyes, make sure to see your optometrist for diagnosis and solutions.

You’re Not Blinking Enough

Blinking is crucial when it comes to keeping your eyes moisturized. When you don’t blink regularly, your tears don’t get spread over the eye’s surface, which can cause them to feel dry. This is especially true if you’re staring at a screen all day.

Take breaks and blink more often when working on a computer or using your phone. Putting away your devices before bed may even help you get a better night sleep.

Your Contact Lenses Are Drying Out Your Eyes

Contact lenses may be convenient, but they can also cause dry eyes. This is especially true if you’re wearing them for an extended period. If you suspect that your contact lenses are causing your dry eyes, try switching to a different brand or using artificial tears to help keep your eyes moist.

You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

If you’re dehydrated, that can cause your eyes to feel dry. Your tears are partially made up of water, so keeping your body well-hydrated is essential. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you’re doing physical activity or spending time in the sun.

Dry Eye Treatments

Intense pulsed light (IPL) and radiofrequency (RF) treatments are 2 innovative treatments for dry eye you should discuss with your optometrist.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Treatment

IPL is a dry eye treatment that uses light pulses on the skin near the eyes to treat meibomian gland dysfunction, or evaporative dry eye. It stimulates the oil glands to melt away blockages and release more consistent, healthier oil while reducing inflammation.

Benefits of IPL include:

  • Long-term impact
  • Quick and easy treatment
  • Noninvasive

Radiofrequency (RF) Treatment

RF technology uses warmth to unclog the meibomian glands and gentle pressure to express the glands, allowing the tear film to be restored in a healthy and effective way.

Benefits of RF include:

  • Lasting results
  • Non-surgical
  • Minimally invasive

Combination Treatment 

Some patients benefit from having both IPL and RF treatments in combination. If you have inflammation and clogging in your glands, this combination treatment can address these issues and help you regain healthy tear production and reduce dry eye symptoms.

Supplementary Dry Eye Treatments

IPL and RF are lasting in-office remedies but are not the only treatment options. Depending on the severity of your dry eye and the symptoms, your optometrist may recommend additional methods, including:

  • Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT)
  • Moist warm compresses
  • Medicated eye drops
  • Eyelid wipes
  • Lid debridement or meibomian gland expression
  • Eyelid exfoliation

Whether you use these methods alongside IPL or RF or your optometrist recommends a different treatment plan, there are a range of solutions to keep your eyes comfortable from sun up to sun down.

A woman in an optical clinic shaking hands with her optometrist

Consult with Your Optometrist

Dry eye is disruptive, and there are several reasons why it might be happening first thing in the morning. But there are ways to fix the issue. The ideal way to determine if IPL or RF is suitable for you is to schedule an appointment at Collingwood Optometry.

During your eye exam, your optometrist will evaluate your dry eye condition and determine the suitable treatment approach for you. The right treatment can help you relieve symptoms and achieve a better quality of life.

By taking care of your eyes, you’ll be able to start your day feeling refreshed and comfortable.

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Dr. Jayne

Written by Dr. E. J. Cation

Dr. E. Jayne Cation was born and raised in rural Caledon. She completed her Honours BSc in Chemistry from the University of Western Ontario in 2008 and then graduated with honours as a Doctor of Optometry from the University of Waterloo in 2012.

Dr. Cation is a proud member of the Ontario Association of Optometrists and Canadian Association of Optometrists. She is also a Quality Assurance Assessor with the College of Optometrists of Ontario.

More Articles By Dr. E. J. Cation

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