Whitby Family Eye Care, Dr.Leslie Fitzgerald & Associates
25 Thickson Rd Whitby ON L1N 8W8 (905) 728-7017
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Whitby, ON
(905) 728-7017

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Waking Up With Dry Eyes: Potential Causes

A close-up of a young boy sleeping with his eyes half open.

Waking up with dry eyes can be frustrating. After a good night of sleep, you want to be refreshed and ready for the day! Feeling itchiness or irritation in your eyes can make your morning much more difficult, and starting your day with discomfort is by no means ideal. So why are you waking up with dry eyes?

Two common causes of dry eyes in the morning are improper tear production and poor tear quality.

Fortunately, there are many solutions to waking up with dry eyes. Scheduling an eye exam with your optometrist and learning more about dry eyes can help you find a solution for waking up without dry eye symptoms.

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome can be a simple itching or burning sensation in the eyes that can lead to discomfort, blurry vision or pain. Though it may seem like a small problem at first, it can lead to significant complications if left unaddressed.

Your eyes naturally produce a film of tears to coat and lubricate their surface. This tear layer helps keep your eyes healthy while allowing oxygen in. Tears have three parts: the mucus, oil, and water layers.

  • The water layer makes sure your eyes are hydrated.
  • The oil layer insulates the water layer to ensure the tears don’t evaporate too early.
  • The mucus layer disperses the produced tear evenly across the surface of your eye.

If one of these layers isn’t produced at the proper volume, your eyes can start to feel dry and irritated.

A young woman in bed browsing on her smartphone at late night.  blue light exposure in the evenings could be causing problems with a sleeping patterns which can contribute in dry eyes.

What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?

A common cause of dry eye syndrome is an issue with tear production—either your eyes aren’t producing enough tears, or the tears it does produce do not properly coat your eyes. 

Dry eyes are especially common as you age. As your body ages, your ability to produce tears may decrease, resulting in dry eyes. Dry eye syndrome can also be made worse by some prescription medications, so it’s always a good idea to check if any medication you may be taking has the side effect of causing dry eyes.

There is also a condition known as nocturnal lagophthalmos, where your eyes don’t fully close while you sleep. Though the condition itself is relatively harmless, it can be an indicator of something more serious and can lead to long-term problems with your vision, including dry eyes. 

Nocturnal lagophthalmos is not the only condition that can cause dry eyes. Diabetes, thyroid issues, and Sjögren’s syndrome are all conditions and diseases that can cause dry eyes. If you have other health conditions, it’s always a good idea to have regular eye exams done by a professional so you can address any potential problems as early as possible.

However, that doesn’t mean that dry eyes are always a byproduct of something more serious. It could be something as simple as a dry environment or dehydration causing your dry eye syndrome. 

If you’re suffering from dry eyes, a comprehensive eye exam can help you pinpoint the exact cause and determine your options for relief.

How to Fix Dry Eyes in the Morning

There are many solutions available to help you with dry eyes in the morning.

The most important step is to find out what’s causing your dry eye syndrome by scheduling an appointment to speak with an eye care professional. They will perform an eye exam so they can determine the root of the problem and help you develop an approach to get relief.

Some of the solutions they can provide advice on include:

  • Eye drops or artificial tears: These act as a boost or replacement for the tears your eyes naturally produce. Your doctor may prescribe a specific kind of drops to use before you sleep.
  • Limiting screen time before you sleep: Digital screens emit blue light that interferes with your natural production of melatonin, which can cause issues when you sleep. Constant exposure to blue light in the evenings could be causing problems with your sleeping patterns.
  • Proper hydration: Since tears are primarily made of water, it could be something as simple as dehydration causing your dry eye syndrome.
  • Taping the eyelid closed while you sleep: Carefully taping your eyelids closed can stop your eyes from naturally opening while you’re sleeping and help stop them from drying out overnight.

Dry eye syndrome can be frustrating to deal with in the morning. After all, who doesn’t want to start their day feeling comfortable and well-rested? 

The strategies above are just some of the solutions that an eye care professional may recommend for helping your dry eye syndrome. At Whitby Family Eye Care, we aren’t just here to offer advice. Book an appointment with one of our optometrists, and we can tailor a customized treatment plan to help solve your dry eye problems and identify the root cause of your symptoms. We’ll take the time to do whatever we can to alleviate your dry eye problems because your vision is as important to us as it is to you.

Visit Our Location in Whitby

Whitby Family Eye Care is at the north east corner of Thickson Rd & Hwy 2, in the KFC plaza. Parking is conveniently located right outside the practice.

Our team of optometrists at Whitby Family Eye Care are proud to offer the following eye care services:

  • Eye Exams
  • Eye Issues and Diseases
  • Laser Eye Surgery Consultation
  • Dry Eye Treatment
  • Emergency Eye Care
  • Contact us today by booking an appointment online or giving us a call, and we will be happy to assist you.


    25 Thickson Rd North
    Whitby, ON, L1N 8W8

    Contact Information

    Phone: (905) 728-7017
    Fax: (905) 728-0865


    If you have an emergency, please visit your nearest emergency department or health care physician.

    Monday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Tuesday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Wednesday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Thursday: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Friday: 9:00 AM - 2:00 PM
    Saturday: By Appointment Only
    Sunday: Closed
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