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Why Are My Eyes So Dry When I Wake Up?

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Have you ever woken up with eyes that feel like sandpaper? Or, have you noticed that your eyes are particularly dry and irritated in the morning? If so, you’re not alone. Many people experience dry eyes in the morning, and there are several reasons why.

Among the most common causes are:

  • Sleeping with your eyes partially open
  • Reduced tear production
  • Contact lenses
  • Medications
  • Allergies
  • Environmental Factors

Reasons for Dry Eyes in the Morning

When you wake up in the morning, your eyes may feel dry for a variety of reasons. 

Sleeping with Your Eyes Partially Open

Your body enters a state of rest when you sleep, which includes your eyelids closing over your eyes. When you sleep with your eyes partially open, the surface of your eyes is exposed to the air around you.

This can result in tear evaporation, which can cause morning dryness. Some people sleep with their eyes partially open due to a medical condition called nocturnal lagophthalmos.

This condition can cause the eyelids to stay partially open during sleep, leading to dry eyes.

Reduced tear Production

Tears are necessary for keeping your eyes moist and healthy. However, your eyes may produce fewer tears at night, resulting in morning dryness and discomfort.

Contact Lenses

Wearing contact lenses can sometimes contribute to dry eyes, particularly if you wear them for an extended period or if you sleep in them.


Certain medications can cause dry eyes as a side effect. If you take medication and experience dry eyes in the morning, speak with your doctor to see if there’s an alternative medication that may be better suited for you.


If you have allergies, your eyes may be especially dry and itchy in the morning as a result of inflammation and irritation.

Environmental Factors

Dry eyes can be intensified by dry air, such as air produced by air conditioning or heating. Furthermore, smoke, dust, and wind can cause dryness and irritation.

Remedies for Dry Eyes in the Morning

Fortunately, there are several treatments that can help relieve early dry eyes. Here are a few to think about:

  • OptiLight by Lumenis (IPL)
  • Lipiflow
  • Oasis Punctal Plugs

OptiLight by Lumenis

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy with OptiLight by Lumenis is a treatment that can help relieve dry eyes. Light therapy targets the glands in the eyelids that produce oil, helping to improve the quality and quantity of tears.

This treatment is typically performed in a series of sessions and may provide long-lasting relief for dry eyes


LipiFlow is a device used to treat meibomian gland dysfunction, a common cause of dry eyes. The device uses gentle heat and pressure to unclog the glands and improve the quality of the oils produced, which can help alleviate dryness and discomfort.

Oasis Punctal Plugs

Punctal plugs are small devices that are inserted into the eye ducts to prevent tears from draining. This can keep the eyes hydrated and relieve dryness. Oasis punctal plugs are made of silicone and can be inserted quickly and painlessly by your eye doctor.

Relieving Dry Eyes at Home

While there are many treatments you can get with the help of your eye doctor, there are also some things you can do at home to help relieve your dry eye symptoms including:

  • HydroEye omega-3 supplements
  • We Love Eyes lid & lash care products
  • Oasis Rest & Relief masks

HydroEye Omega-3 Supplements

HydroEye is a dietary supplement that includes a unique blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as other key nutrients that can aid in the improvement of eye health and the reduction of dryness. The supplement is intended to enhance tear quality and provide relief from dry eyes.

We Love Eyes Lid & Lash Care Products

We Love Eyes has a selection of natural, non-toxic products for lid and lash care that can help alleviate dryness and discomfort. These products are made with natural ingredients and can be used to clean and soothe sensitive skin around the eyes.

Oasis Rest & Relief Masks

Oasis Rest & Relief Masks are designed to provide soothing relief for dry eyes. These masks can be heated in the microwave or chilled in the freezer and applied over closed eyes to help improve the quality of tears and reduce dryness.

A woman sitting in an optometrist's office looking into a machine that tests her vision.

Dry Eye Rejuvenation in Yorba Linda

Waking up with dry eyes is uncomfortable, but it’s a common issue that many people face. Understanding the common causes of morning dry eyes and using remedies to relieve discomfort can help you better your eye health and get a good night’s sleep.

You can help to alleviate the discomfort of early dry eyes by combining home remedies, lifestyle adjustments, and specialized treatments. Make an appointment with Dr. Bittel Optometry to discuss the best treatment choices from our dry eye rejuvenation center.

Dr. Charlie Bittel

Written by Dr. Charles F. Bittel, III

Dr. Charles F. Bittel III (also known as Dr. Charlie or Dr. Bittel Junior) was introduced to the world of optometry in 1983 at his father’s graduation from optometry school. He is a graduate of Servite High School in Anaheim and received his degree in psychology from UCLA. Dr. Charlie Bittel graduated summa cum laude from the Southern California College of Optometry in 2006 and was the class salutatorian.

Dr. Charlie Bittel, owner and primary optometrist at Charles Bittel III, OD, enjoys all aspects of family eye care and is happy to see patients anywhere from 4–104 years old. In the last few years, Dr. Charlie has developed a passion in dry eye disease and myopia management and has embraced the challenge of incorporating these areas of interest into his family practice. He has also had the honor of being a part of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care’s Professional Affairs Consulting team and Speaker’s Bureau. And, most recently, he has partnered with their LipiFlow team to help fellow optometrists incorporate dry eye clinics into their practices.

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