Nighttime Dry Eye

When we head off to bed the majority of us do not think about our eye health as when we sleep our eyes are closed and resting. However, for some people, nighttime is actually a time when their eyes need some help due to suffering from conditions that bring about red eyes, eye soreness and dry eye.

Causes Of Nighttime Dry Eye

Nocturnal Lagophthalmos

Nocturnal Lagophthalmos is a condition that prevents your eyes from closing completely shut. If you find this only happens when you sleep it’s called nocturnal lagophthalmos. Even though this condition doesn’t sound very serious it can be harmful to your eyes due to them being exposed to foreign particles and becoming dry while you sleep.

Compromised Lid Seal

A compromised lid seal is a condition when the upper and lower eyelids do not create a perfect seal. This is similar to Nocturnal Lagophthalmos but only a very small part of the eye is exposed due to the 2 eyelids not aligning or creating a ‘seal’ which would usually keep the eyes safe and allow for even tear distribution.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a condition that randomly starts and stops the breathing process whilst you sleep. This often results in an individual suffering from the condition waking up hastily due to the body raising the alarm of the lack of oxygen.  You may be wondering what this has to do with dry eye? A common treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) which uses a mask that covers the nose and mouth. Air leaks from the mask can create a continuous air stream directed towards the eyes resulting in dry eye.

Floppy Eye

Floppy eyelid syndrome is characterised by very elastic upper lids that becomes easily distorted and turned outwards with minimal lateral traction of the eyelid. This condition can lead to tear film abnormality and dry eyes.

Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye

The tears that your eyes produce do more than show when you are upset. These glands are constantly providing your eyes with a supply of liquid used to keep them moist and clean at all times. Aqueous tear-deficient dry eye is a condition when your glands don’t produce enough tears which can lead to sore eyes, vision problems and dry eye.

Prevent Nighttime Dry Eye

If you suffer from nighttime dry eye there are a few options that you can try:

Taping Your Eyes Shut

A very simple solution you can try and something that has helped some people who suffer from nocturnal lagophthalmos or compromised lid seal is to tape your eyes shut. Place the tape on the lower half of the upper eyelid and on the skin under the eye to create a seal.

Hydrating Nighttime Mask

Hydrating face masks are designed to not only seal in moisture but also keep the eye well lubricated. Masks are also a great option for people who are using CPAP as the mask helps to protect them from any air stream leaks that would otherwise be drying out the eyes.


Ointments can be used each night before bed to keep your eyes well lubricated.


One of the more extreme treatments involves using surgery to insert tiny weights into the eyelids. With the extra weight, gravity helps to close the eyelids completely shut.