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Eye and Vision Care

Dry eyes only while sleeping



I am a 26 year old contact wearer who has recently started experiencing extremely dry eyes while sleeping. Essentially it seems when asleep, there is no moisture being produced for the eyes and I wake up with totally dry, crusty eyes. No problems during the day when my contacts are in or if I take them out and are not sleeping. Use of saline solution during the night helps temporarily, but after a couple hours of sleep after application, the condition returns. Tried adding humidifier to the room to no effect. High level of computer use at work and home. No eye surgeries.


I can't be sure without examining you, but you may have a condition known as exposure keratitis caused by an incomplete closure of your eyelids during sleep. If left untreated, this could lead to recurrent corneal erosion (RCE), a painful condition due to extremely dry eyes upon waking in the morning.

Recommended treatments for incomplete lid closure during sleep include the use of ointments at night and/or taping your eyelids closed. If neither of these first aid measures is effective, you should see your optometrist for a more definitive diagnosis and treatment, including a re-evaluation of the water content of your current contact lens material.

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Response by:

Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO
Professor Emeritus of Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University