Waking up in the morning with dry eyes is painful—after having them shut all night, you’re probably confused as to why they still feel tired, itchy, and irritated. Here are a few reasons why, and one easy, comfortable solution—the Dry Eye Mask.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
How do dry eyes happen at night? If they are closed, shouldn’t they be perfectly moist? Well, your eyes are coated in a film of tears—fatty oils, aqueous fluid, and mucus. Dry eye occurs when reduced tear production or increased tear evaporation throws off the balance of these layers, causing inflammation and irritation.
Even if it seems unlikely, your eyes can become chemically imbalanced and dry out, even at night. Certain personal factors can cause it, but it is also often completely out of your control. The main question, then, is what causes this imbalance, and what can you do to help?
You May Have Dry Eye Syndrome
When it comes to dry eyes, a common and fairly obvious cause is dry eye syndrome. Currently between 16 million and 49 million Americans have dry eyes. This is between 5-15% of the population.
- A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye redness
- A sensation of having something in your eyes
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Difficulty with nighttime driving
- Watery eyes, which is the body's response to the irritation of dry eyes
- Blurred vision or eye fatigue
Even if only some of these symptoms apply, chances are you are suffering from dry eyes to some degree.
Medications Taken Before Bed
Medications often have a long, unreadable list of side effects. If you are suffering from dry eyes, it may be linked to certain medications. Mood stabilizers such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety often list dry eyes as a side effect. And, these medications are being prescribed to a broader and younger population than in the past, which means more young people have begun to display dry eye side effects.
You may be surprised to hear that antihistamines and decongestants, or allergy medications, often cause dry eyes. While these drugs are often thought to help reduce allergic symptoms, those taken to treat specific allergies such as rhinitis, uticaria, dermatitis and other systemic allergies reduce the chemicals that go into tear production.
Hormone replacements, birth control, acne control, and more can all influence your body’s natural tear production. After all, if they are affecting your chemical balances, there is a high likelihood they are influencing chemicals apart from the problem as well. These are the main types of drugs that tend to cause dry eye symptoms:
- Hypertensive Agents
- Pain Relievers
- Dermatologic Medications
- Gastrointestinal Medications
- Chemotherapy Medications
- Antipsychotic Medications
Environment Issues May Be the Cause
The environment in which you live and sleep can play a huge role in your eye health. As the summer gets into full swing, you may find yourself throwing open windows to let the fresh air in after the long winter.
This is comfortable, but not for your eyes—sleeping with your window open can blow in pollen, particles, and other elements to seep in at night. In rural areas, this can be smoke, dirt, and even pesticides from nearby farms. In the city, air pollution can do a lot of harm to your eyes.
Screen Time Before Bedtime
We’re all victim to scrolling on our phones, playing games on the computer, or finishing just “one last episode” before we go to bed at night. More often than not, this takes place in our bed seconds before we go to sleep. Unfortunately, while it is seemingly fun and relaxing, it causes a lot of problems. For our eyes, too much screen time causes:
- Eye fatigue
- Dry and irritated eyes
- Loss of focus flexibility
- Retinal damage
Pile this all up, and your eyes are set up for disaster right as you turn in for the night. According to Harvard and The National Sleep Foundation, studies have found that people who used technology such as phones, tablets, or computers in bed before they went to sleep scored lower on measures of sleep quality than those who didn't. Digital eye strain puts an extra burden on the muscles that help the eye focus. You are also prone to blink less when looking at digital devices, causing faster disruption and evaporation of the film of tears that protects the surface of the eye.
Lifestyle Changes Can Help, But Are Often Tricky
With all of this in mind, are there any ways you can help reduce the severity of your morning dry eyes? There are a number of them, but they are either very complex or only mildly effective:
- Artificial tears: These can be found over-the-counter, or prescribed by a doctor. Either way, they tend to be confusing. There are many different drops to choose from, each with its own formula and method of use. They can cause temporary relief, but rarely proactively solve the issue at its source.
- Steroid eye drops: This prescribed treatment is often used as a quick-fix, and runs the risk of some unfavorable side effects.
- Punctal plugs: This treatment places a small plug in your tear duct to stop fresh tears from draining too quickly. It will help hold tears longer, but is often a scary, overly-invasive procedure for most people.
- Meibomian gland expression: This procedure takes place in the doctor’s office by applying heat and pressure to your meibomian glands to increase oil production. However, this procedure can be replicated very effectively at home with a dry eye therapy mask.
- Home remedies: Blinking more often, wearing sunglasses, taking screen breaks, cleaning your eyes, etc. can all help reduce your dry eye symptoms. However, these small changes can only help so much, and are often very difficult to keep up with consistently.
A Reliable Fix For Your Nighttime Dry Eyes—Get the Dry Eye Mask
Morning dry eyes are a nuisance. While some fixes can help, they are often complicated, inconsistent, or short-term. Why not fix the problem in comfort while you sleep and relax? Our warming eye mask for dry eyes takes the pain away while providing relaxation, recommended by over 1000 Ophthalmology offices around the globe. To get your own dry eye heat mask, check out our website.