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Why Are My Eyes So Dry?

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Why Are My Eyes So Dry?

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Eye comfort is more than 20/20 vision. Multiple factors can impact how well you can see and how your eyes feel. When your eyes are dry, it can affect your vision, eye health, and even mental health.

Many factors lead to dry eyes, from eye nutrition to digital eye strain. The reason behind your eye discomfort may be one thing or many things. Regular eye exams can help optometrists determine the cause and recommend options for dry eye therapy.

But what are some of the common causes of dry eyes?

Contacts Lens Dryness

Contact lenses offer multiple benefits, but they can also add risks to your eye health. Along with increasing your risk of eye infection, wearing contact lenses for too long can cause dry eyes. Dry eyes can also be a symptom of some eye infections caused by contact lens use.

While good hygiene habits and healthy eye practices are beneficial in reducing your risks, wearing contacts means touching your eyes—a lot. Even if you’re used to wearing contacts, you’re still placing a foreign body in your eye. As a result, contact wearers may frequently experience eye redness, a symptom of irritation or inflammation.

Contact lens wearers can reduce many symptoms by practicing good eye hygiene and getting lens fitting. When a lens fits appropriately, it slips less, and you’re less likely to readjust or introduce bacteria to your eye. 

Overnight Contacts

One-third of contact wearers fall asleep or nap wearing contacts, which increases the chance of corneal infections or abrasions. Even contact lenses for extended wear, and the few designed for overnight wear, can decrease tear quality and access to oxygen.

Avoid wearing contacts overnight or for extended hours to help protect your eyes and prevent dryness.

Digital Eye Strain

One of the most common causes of dry eyes is digital eye strain. We’re constantly exposed to digital screens for work and play. Yet, too much exposure can overstimulate our visual system. In addition to dry eyes, other digital eye strain symptoms include:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Neck or shoulder pain

Many of the symptoms of digital eye strain are temporary and can improve after resting your eyes. However, if symptoms are overlooked, or other eye conditions develop, digital eye strain can cause worsening symptoms.

If you use a digital screen late at night, your eyes might not have adequate rest or time to rejuvenate their tear film before your morning alarm. Try limiting your late-night screen time before bed, and your morning dry eye symptoms may improve.


Tear quality can be impacted by many factors—including nutrition deficiencies, digital eye strain, and infections. But your tears are 98% water, so you need water to protect your eyes from dryness.

Drinking enough water is beneficial for your overall health. So whether you experience dry eyes during the day or night, try adding more water to your daily routine. 

Graphical representation of the cross section comparison of a normal eye to that of a dry eye. The normal eye on the left side shows all cell layers in good condition, where as the dry eye on the right shows a gap in the tear film and resulting dry spot.


Blepharitis is an eye condition caused by bacteria buildup on your eyelids. The condition can clog oil glands necessary for tear production, resulting in tears that dry too quickly. One significant indicator of blepharitis is crusty eyelids or eyelashes, particularly when you wake up.

Blepharitis can also cause:

  • Dry eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Foamy tears
  • Blurry vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eyelashes falling out
  • Feeling something in your eye
  • ·Burning or stinging eyes
  • Redness or irritation
  • Swelling (eyes or eyelids)

Why Are My Eyes So Dry When I Wake Up?

External factors, like eye conditions, screen time, and contact lenses, are the most common causes of morning dry eyes. However, one rarer condition that may cause your morning dry eyes is nocturnal lagophthalmos (NL). The condition prevents your eyes from completely closing while asleep.

The causes of nocturnal lagophthalmos include disorders, infections, or injury. As many causes can involve worsening symptoms, early diagnosis can help protect your health. Some health conditions may need to be diagnosed by a general practitioner or health specialist. However, an optometrist can also detect nocturnal lagophthalmos.

Relieving Dry Eyes with Precision Eye Care

The best way to understand the cause affecting your unique eyes is through regular eye exams. Our optometrists can offer dry eye therapy tailored to your needs by getting familiar with your lifestyle and your eyes.

Whether your eyes are drying during the day or after waking up, we can help you manage your symptoms.

Book an appointment with Precision Eye Care, and we can help find a solution for your dry eyes.

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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