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Why Are My Eyes Dry When I Wake Up?

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A woman wearing a pink robe and pink eye mask, and holding a pink mug after she just woke up from sleep.

Many people wake up with uncomfortable dry eyes in the morning. The team at Precision Eye Care can help explore why your eyes are dry in the morning and help craft a personalized dry eye treatment plan for you.

Your eyes can be dry when you wake up for many reasons, including a dry environment, allergies, dry eye disease, medication, dehydration, aging, and autoimmune conditions.

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye refers to a condition where the eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly, resulting in discomfort and irritation. There are 2 main types of dry eye.

Evaporative Dry Eye

Evaporative dry eye occurs when the tears evaporate too rapidly due to a problem with the oil glands in the eyelids. These glands, known as meibomian glands, may not produce enough oil, leading to an unstable tear film.

Aqueous-Deficient Dry Eye

In aqueous-deficient dry eye, the lacrimal glands fail to produce enough aqueous tears. Aqueous tears help lubricate the eyes and maintain moisture on the surface. Insufficient production can lead to dryness and discomfort.

Both types of dry eye can cause symptoms such as a gritty or sandy feeling, redness, burning, sensitivity to light, and blurred vision. It is important to consult an eye care professional if you experience these symptoms to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.

Reasons Your Eyes Can Be Dry When You Wake Up

Environmental Conditions

Pollution, air conditioning, and extended screen time are just a few of the environmental factors that could be contributing to eye dryness. By better understanding these causes, we can take steps to protect our eyes and maintain healthy vision. Whether it’s adjusting the settings on our devices, using humidifiers, or simply taking breaks from screen time, there are many ways we can work to combat environmental causes of eye dryness.


Allergies can also be a factor in eye dryness. Dust, pollen, and pet dander are common causes of allergies that can lead to discomfort in the eyes. Taking steps like cleaning often, using air purifiers, and taking allergy medication as needed can help reduce eye dryness caused by allergies.

Good hygiene is also essential for keeping your eyes healthy. Make sure to clean your eyewear regularly and practice safe habits such as washing your hands frequently and not rubbing or touching your eyes too much. 

Dry Eye Disease

In some cases, dry eye can be a chronic condition called dry eye disease (DED). People with DED often have persistent discomfort in their eyes and may also experience blurred vision. Treatment options like lubricating drops and lifestyle changes can help relieve the symptoms of dry eye disease and protect your vision.

Medication Side Effects

In some cases, morning dry eye can be a side effect of certain medications. If you’re taking any medication, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about the potential side effects—they may suggest an alternate medication or changes in dosages. Additionally, if your eyes feel unusually dry after starting a new medication, speaking with your doctor may help find the cause and develop a treatment plan.


Not consuming enough fluids is another common cause of morning dry eyes. To ensure you’re getting enough water, keep a reusable water bottle on hand and drink throughout the day. Aim for 8 glasses of water per day. Additionally, cutting back on salty snacks can reduce dehydration and help with your morning dry eyes.


Dry eyes can be a common part of the aging process. As we get older, our bodies produce fewer tears, and our tear production becomes more imbalanced. To help combat this, you may need to use artificial tears or medications. Discuss these options with your doctor to develop a treatment plan for morning dry eyes.

Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions, like Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, blepharitis, and meibomian gland dysfunction, can cause dry eyes. Each of these conditions requires unique treatment, so it’s essential to get an accurate diagnosis from a doctor. 

A woman tilting her head back and putting eye drops into her right eye

Dry Eye Treatments

At Precision Eye Care, we offer multiple treatments for dry eye and can create a personalized treatment plan for you.


LipiView II Ocular Surface Interferometer with Dynamic Meibomian Imaging (DMI) measures lipid layer thickness (LLT) with nanometer accuracy, captures blink dynamics, and images meibomian gland structure. LipiView provides the ophthalmologist with objective, quantitative data on your tear film composition and functionality.


LipiFlow is a thermal pulsation device that uses gentle heat and massage to open blocked meibomian glands and stimulate natural gland secretions. It’s designed to help restore normal oil production for longer-lasting relief from dry eye symptoms.


BlephEx is a device designed to gently cleanse and exfoliate eyelids. This technology helps remove unwanted debris, bacteria, biofilm, and other foreign particles commonly found on the eyelids, which can contribute to dry eye symptoms. 

Get Help for Your Dry Eyes

If you’re regularly experiencing dry eyes in the morning, we want to help. Get in touch with the team at Precision Eye Care for a dry eye evaluation and treatment plan. We look forward to helping you wake up with clear, comfortable vision!

Written by Dr. Judy Chan

Dr. Chan received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California San Diego in 1986 and her Doctor of Optometry degree in 1990 from Pacific University College of Optometry. To broaden her skills, she also completed a year of residency training, specializing in geriatrics and ocular diseases at the Veterans Hospital in Portland. After practicing in the Portland/Vancouver area for nearly 7 years, Dr. Chan purchased her first clinic in Battle Ground, Washington. She found private practice very fulfilling and promptly acquired her second office in 1999.

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