4 min

Dry Eyes at Night Symptoms, Causes & Treatments


What are Dry Eyes?

Dry eye syndrome, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a condition that occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or when the quality of tears is poor.

Tears are essential for the eyes’ health as they lubricate and nourish the eye’s surface, protect against infections, and provide clear vision. When there is a deficiency in tear production or quality, the eyes can become dry, itchy, and irritated.

Your Complete Guide To Dry Eyes

Symptoms of Dry Eyes at Night

Dry eyes can cause various symptoms at night, including:

  • A gritty, scratchy, itchy or burning sensation in the eyes
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Watery eyes (paradoxically, dry eyes can also cause excessive tearing)
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Eye fatigue
  • Discomfort at night, particularly when trying to fall asleep.
Check Your Eye Health - 60-Second Eye Test

“Tears are essential for the eyes’ health as they lubricate and nourish the eye’s surface, protect against infections, and provide clear vision”

Causes of Dry Eyes at Night

  • As we age, our eyes produce fewer tears and become less effective at lubricating the eyes. This can lead to dryness, itchiness, and discomfort.

  • Exposure to dry air, wind, or air conditioning can dry out the eyes and cause irritation. Similarly, exposure to smoke, dust or other irritants can lead to dryness and discomfort.

  • Certain medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications, can cause dryness of the eyes as a side effect.

  • Several conditions can cause dry eyes at night, including rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, Thyroid disorders, Lupus, Diabetes, Vitamin A deficiency, Rosacea, Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), Stevens-Johnson syndrome, Bell's palsy, Parkinson's disease, HIV/AIDS, Multiple sclerosis, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Sarcoidosis, Scleroderma, Amyloidosis, Lymphoma, Leukemia.

  • Hormonal changes during menopause, perimenopause or pregnancy can cause changes in tear production and lead to dry eyes.

  • Contact lenses can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the eyes and cause dryness, especially if worn for an extended period.

  • People staring at computer screens for long periods tend to blink less frequently, leading to dry eyes.

  • Certain structural abnormalities of the eyelids, such as ectropion or entropion, can cause dryness of the eyes.

  • LASIK surgery can cause dryness of the eyes as a side effect. Still, the symptoms are usually temporary and resolve over time.

  • Allergies can cause dryness of the eyes due to inflammation and irritation.

  • How to Prevent Dry Eyes at Night

    Preventing dry eyes at night requires adopting healthy eye habits and environmental changes. Some of the strategies that can help prevent dry eyes include:

    • Maintain good eye hygiene: Wash your eyes regularly with warm water and a gentle cleanser to remove debris and bacteria that can contribute to dry eyes.
    • Blink regularly: Blinking helps spread tears across the eye’s surface, preventing dryness.
    • Use lubricating drops & sprays: preservative-free and with a high viscosity - like the MTHK Eye Drops.
    Eye Drops + Eye Spray

    How to Prevent Dry Eyes at Night (cont.)

    • Use a humidifier: Sleeping in a room with a humidifier can help to increase the humidity levels, reducing dryness.
    • Take breaks from screen time: To prevent eye strain and dryness, take breaks from screen time every 20 minutes and look away from the screen.
    • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated can help to maintain moisture in the eyes.
    • Avoid exposure to irritants: Smoke, dust, and other irritants can cause dry eyes. Use protective eyewear, such as goggles, when exposed to irritants.
    Healthy Screen Time Tips

    “Hormonal changes during menopause, perimenopause or pregnancy can cause changes in tear production and lead to dry eyes”

    Why are Dry Eyes Worse at Night?

  • Blinking is essential for spreading tears across the surface of the eyes and keeping them moist. People blink less frequently when they sleep, leading to decreased tear production and increased dryness.

  • The body’s natural production of tears typically decreases at night, leading to increased dryness and discomfort.

  • Sleeping with your eyes partially open can cause tears to evaporate quickly, resulting in dryness. Also, sleeping on your side or stomach can cause fluids to accumulate around the eyes and lead to increased dryness.

  • The air in the bedroom may be drier than in other house areas because of central heating or air conditioning. Also, ceiling fans can create a draft that can dry out the eyes.

  • Some people may be exposed to irritants in their bedrooms, such as dust, pet dander, or allergens, which can trigger dry eye symptoms.

  • Certain medications can cause dry eyes as a side effect, and the symptoms can worsen at night.

  • Wearing contact lenses or sleeping in them for extended periods can cause dry eyes.

  • “People usually blink about 18 times a minute. But they blink 6 times a minute on digital screens, increasing the chance of developing dry eyes.”

    Home Remedies for Dry Eyes at Night

  • Applying a warm compress to the eyes can help to loosen clogged oil glands and promote tear production.

  • Increasing your intake of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, flaxseed, and walnuts, can help to reduce inflammation and improve tear quality.

  • Over-the-counter, preservative-free artificial tears (eye sprays and drops) can help to lubricate the eyes and alleviate dryness. Some artificial tears are designed for use at night and can provide longer-lasting relief - like the MTHK Eye Drops (they have a higher viscosity than other drops).

  • Massaging the eyelids can help to promote the secretion of natural oils that help to lubricate the eyes.

  • Keep fans and air conditioners pointed away from the face to prevent dryness.

  • Treatments for Dry Eyes at Night

    If home remedies do not provide relief, several treatments are available to manage dry eyes at night, including:

    • Prescription eye drops: Your doctor may prescribe eye drops that contain medications such as cyclosporine, which can help to increase tear production.
    • Punctal plugs: These tiny devices are inserted into the tear ducts to block drainage, helping to keep the eyes moist.
    Try Our 15-Second Blink Test

    Treatments for Dry Eyes at Night (cont.)

    • Steroid eye drops: In cases of severe inflammation, your doctor may prescribe steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation and promote tear production.
    • Meibomian gland expression: This procedure involves applying pressure to the eyelids to express the natural oils that lubricate the eyes.
    • Scleral lenses: These special contact lenses cover a larger area of the eye, providing prolonged relief from dryness.
    • LipiFlow: This non-invasive procedure uses heat and gentle pressure to unblock clogged oil glands, restoring natural tear production.
    Exercises To Help With Eye Strain

    “When there is a deficiency in tear production or quality, the eyes can become dry, itchy, and irritated”


    Dry eyes at night can be frustrating and uncomfortable, but several treatments and lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms. You can manage dry eyes at home by adopting healthy eye habits, increasing omega-3 intake, and using Eye Drops and Eye Sprays.

    However, if symptoms persist or worsen, seeking medical attention from an ophthalmologist or eye specialist is essential to determine the underlying cause and get appropriate treatment.

    Dry Eyes - Your Complete Guide
    6 min

    Dry Eyes - Your Complete Guide

    Maqui Berry - The Dry Eye Solution
    2 min

    Maqui Berry - The Dry Eye Solution

    Inside Our Eye Vitamins
    4 min

    Inside Our Eye Vitamins

    Screen Time - Tips for Healthier Eyes
    3 min

    Screen Time - Tips for Healthier Eyes


    Dry Eyes at Night - Resources & References

    1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). What Is Dry Eye? Retrieved from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-dry-eye
    2. National Eye Institute. (2021). Dry Eye. Retrieved from https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/dry-eye
    3. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Dry eyes. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-eyes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371863
    4. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). Causes of Dry Eye. Retrieved from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/dry-eye-causes
    5. Gomes, J. A. P., Azar, D. T., Baudouin, C., Efron, N., Hirayama, M., Horwath-Winter, J., … Pult, H. (2013). TFOS DEWS II iatrogenic report. The Ocular Surface, 15(3), 511-538. doi:10.1016/j.jtos.2017.05.004
    6. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). Dry Eye Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/dry-eye-treatment
    7. Cleveland Clinic. (2021). How to Treat Dry Eyes at Home.
    8. MedlinePlus. (2021). Dry eye syndrome.
    9. American Optometric Association. (2021). Dry Eye. Retrieved from https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/dry-eye
    10. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). Dry Eye Self-Care. Retrieved from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/dry-eye-self-care
    11. National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How to Sleep with Dry Eyes.
    12. American Optometric Association. (2021). Computer Vision Syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/protecting-your-vision/computer-vision-syndrome
    13. Dry Eye Assessment and Management (DREAM) Study Research Group. (2018). ω-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation for Treatment of Dry Eye Disease. JAMA, 319(18), 1885–1891. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.4674
    14. Sullivan, D. A., Rocha, E. M., Aragona, P., Clayton, J. A., Ding, J., Golebiowski, B., … & The TFOS DEWS II Sex, Gender, and Hormones Subcommittee. (2017). TFOS DEWS II Sex, Gender, and Hormones Report. The Ocular Surface, 15(3), 284-333. doi:10.1016/j.jtos.2017.04.001
    15. Bielory, L. (2013). Allergic conjunctivitis and the impact of allergic rhinitis. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports, 13(2),
    16. Nichols, J. J. (2013). Contact lenses and ocular surface alterations. Current Opinion in Ophthalmology, 24(4), 301-307. doi:10.1097/ICU.0b013e32836228d8
    17. Ambrósio, R., Tervo, T., & Wilson, S. E. (2008). LASIK-associated dry eye and neurotrophic epitheliopathy: Pathophysiology and strategies for prevention and treatment. Journal of Refractive Surgery, 24(4), 396-407.
    18. McMonnies, C. W. (2017). The potential role of neuropathic mechanisms in dry eye syndromes. Journal of Optometry, 10(1), 5-13. doi:10.1016/j.optom.2016.02.001
    19. Alghamdi, Y. A., & Camp, A. (2016). Structural abnormalities of the cornea and lid resulting in chronic ocular surface disease. International Ophthalmology Clinics, 56(2), 67-80. doi:10.1097/IIO.0000000000000106
    20. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (2021). Dry Eye Diagnosis. Retrieved from https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/dry-eye-diagnosis
    21. Song, P., Xia, W., & Wang, M. (2018). The prevalence and risk factors for dry eye syndrome: A meta-analysis. Cornea, 37(2), 246-251. doi:10.1097/ICO.0000000000001447
    22. Mojon, D. S., Goldblum, D., Fleischhauer, J., Chiou, A. G., Frueh, B. E., & Hess, C. W. (2000). Eyelid, conjunctival, and corneal findings in sleep apnea syndrome. Ophthalmology, 107(2), 375-377. doi:10.1016/S0161-6420(99)00046-3
    23. Na, K. S., Han, K., Park, Y. G., Na, C., & Joo, C. K. (2015). Depression, stress, quality of life, and dry eye disease in Korean women: A population-based study. Cornea, 34(7), 733-738. doi:10.1097/ICO.0000000000000458
    24. Wolffsohn, J. S., Arita, R., Chalmers, R., Djalilian, A., Dogru, M., Dumbleton, K., ... & Pult, H. (2017). TFOS DEWS II diagnostic methodology report. The Ocular Surface, 15(3), 539-574. doi:10.1016/j.jtos.2017.05.001
    25. Gumus, K., & Pflugfelder, S. C. (2013). Increasing prevalence and severity of dry eye in children: A clinical observation. Eye & Contact Lens, 39(1), 79-82. doi:10.1097/ICL.0b013e31827a8e00