Here's Why You Keep Waking Up With Red Eyes

Morning hours can be brutal when you don't get enough sleep. Even though a good espresso shot might cure your morning fatigue, you also might notice your eyes look like you haven't slept for days. You can cover them up with sunglasses during your morning commute, but red eyes are hard to explain during your morning meeting.

Yet, you might notice waking up with red eyes even when you've had a good night's sleep. According to Cleveland Clinic, you have small blood vessels in your eyes, and your eyes appear more red when these blood vessels swell. Red eyes could also itch or be painful, or you could experience blurred vision as a result. Sure, red eyes might look scary to you or your coworkers, but most cases of red eyes aren't too much cause for concern. Per the American Academy of Ophthalmology, one reason you wake up with red eyes is that you're experiencing dry eyes while you're sleeping.

Some causes of morning dry eye

According to Henderson Vision Centre, you have three layers of tears that help hydrate your eyes. The inner layer sticks to the surface of your eye, and the middle layer keeps the moisture and nutrients in your eyes. The outer layer of tears protects the tears from evaporation. When that outer layer gets disturbed, you could experience dry eyes. Although a lack of sleep could cause your eyes to be dry, too much screen time before you go to bed could make you blink less often. Blinking helps saturate your eyes with proper moisture.

You could also wake up with dry, red eyes if your contact lenses are dirty or improperly managed. Sleeping with contact lenses could also rob your eyes of the necessary moisture. Some people might wake up with red eyes if they have nocturnal lagophthalmos. This occurs when the nerves in your face don't signal your eyes to close (or close completely) during sleep. Thus, the eyes aren't protected from the air and can dry out.

Treating morning bloodshot eyes

Over-the-counter (OTC) artificial tears can help moisten your dry eyes, according to Cleveland Clinic. A good wash of your eyelids or a cool compress could help relieve your red eyes. Getting a little more sleep might also help. If your eyes are still red or dry after a few days, it's best to see a medical professional to make sure you don't have an eye infection.

You can prevent your eyes from becoming red and dry by avoiding long bouts of screen time. Step away from your computer or phone for a few moments to give your eyes a break. If you wear contact lenses, be sure to clean them as instructed. Pet dander, dust, smoke, and eye makeup could also irritate the eyes, so be sure to wash your eye area of any of these irritants before bed and when you wake up. You can help hydrate your eyes by drinking enough water, perĀ East Main Vision Clinic. Because some people might sleep with their eyes partially open, it's also best to avoid fans or any forced air around your face at night.