What You Need to Know About Dry Eyes at Night
Millions of people suffer from dry eyes at night. Some experience so many symptoms that they are miserable and their vision is impaired. They often don’t know there is treatment available to relieve the symptoms.
Causes of Dry Eyes at Night
Dry eyes develop when there is an imbalance between the production and removal of tears. This can be due to insufficient production of tears, production of poor quality tears, or tears that evaporate too quickly. Some specific causes for this include:
Age. As a person ages, it becomes more difficult for their eyes to produce tears.
Contact lenses. Wearing contact lenses for long periods of time can result in a reduction of tears.
Dehydration. Not drinking enough fluids can reduce both tear production in general and the quality of the tears.
Environmental factors. Wind, smoke, general pollution, or allergens in the air can increase the development of dry eyes.
Eye surgeries. Refractive eye surgery can result in the reduction of tear production.
Hormonal factors. Birth control pills, pregnancy, and menopause can all affect and reduce the production of tears.
Medical conditions. Some chronic medical conditions, like Sjogren’s disease, for example, can increase dry eyes.
Medications. The side effect of some medications is the reduction of tear production. Some categories of medications that have this side effect include antidepressants, antihistamines, and decongestants.
Nutritional deficiencies. When the diet is insufficient in Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids, dry eyes can result.
Sleeping with the eyes open (nocturnal lagophthalmos). This simply means sleeping with the eyes open, which is common in those who have damaged or weakened eyelids.
Too much screen time. Dry eyes and eye strain can result from staring at a screen too long, which often results in insufficient blinking, which reduces the production of tears.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes at Night
- Dry eyes cause more symptoms than just dry eyes. If you have dry eyes at night, you may also experience:
- Blurred vision
- Eyes watering
- Pain when wearing your contact lenses
- Redness in your eyes
- Stringy mucus in and around your eyes
- Light sensitivity
- A scratchy feeling, like a piece of sand or hair, or something similar, is in your eye.
Treatments for Dry Eyes at Night
You do not have to live with this discomfort. There are treatments available. See your eye care specialist for an examination. You can then implement the recommended treatment and achieve relief.
Some treatments include:
Artificial tears. These can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC). Choose a product that is preservative-free. Those are less likely to cause irritation.
Maintaining tears. You will use a gel that blocks the tear ducts which drain away tears. This works to prolong the time your natural tears stay in your eyes.
Drops for increasing tear production. They are by prescription only. Cyclosporine is one that is often prescribed for increasing tear production.
Changing medication. If you are taking a medication that has a side effect of reducing tear production, you may need to change to an alternative one that does not have that side effect.
Treatment for inflammation. The doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory eye drops, washes, or ointments to treat your eyes or eyelids for inflammation.
Surgery on eyelid muscles. If your dry eyes are caused by sleeping with your eyes open due to weakened muscles, surgery may be needed to strengthen the lower eyelids and prevent tears from draining too quickly. This will help with the nocturnal lagophthalmos (sleeping with your eyes open).
What You Can Do at Home for Your Dry Eyes
There are some do-it-yourself remedies you can try to increase tear production and relieve your dry eye at night discomfort.
- Stay hydrated
- Get enough rest
- Use OTC artificial tears
- Avoid environments that have triggers, such as those that are highly polluted.
- Limit computer screen time by taking more frequent breaks.
- Give up your contact lenses and wear your glasses.
- Get enough Vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.