ZocdocAnswersWhat can I do to get some relief from my dry eyes?

Question

What can I do to get some relief from my dry eyes?

I use a CPAP machine to treat my sleep apnea, and sometimes the mask loses its suction during the night, and the air from the machine blows up in my eyes while I am asleep. Even though my eyes are closed, the air blowing toward my eyes really dries them out the next morning. My eyes become very painful, are itchy, are usually bloodshot, and sometimes my vision is blurry for awhile. I realize that as we get older, our eyes produce less tears to keep the eyes lubricated, and I do take allergy medications that dry me out some, but I do not understand why my dry eye are worse when the CPAP machine blows the air on them when they are closed. What can I do to keep my eyes from drying out so much?

Answer

Dry eyes are a common and uncomfortable problem. In any situation in which your tears aren't able to provide adequate moisture for your eyes, they will become overly dry and uncomfortable. In your situation, it sounds like this is nothing that is intrinsically wrong with your eye and the dryness is being caused by external factors such as your nocturnal CPAP mask. Generally, dry eyes don't cause serious problems, but sometimes excessively dry eyes can lead to damage to the surface of the eye or more frequent eye infections. For this reason, it is probably a good idea to have your eyes examined by an ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist can examine your eyes to ensure no damage has occurred and can also offer a wide variety of prescription treatments for dry eyes including moisturizing drops and ointments to help keep your eyes from drying out at night. Also, in the rare instance that you may actually have a problem with your eyes or tears that is causing the morning dryness, this could diagnosed at that appointment. In the meantime, there are many over the counter medications that can help moisturize your eyes. There are two main categories or medications. Artificial tear drops are general a thin liquid that are composed of similar substances at your actual tears. These can be used frequently during the day and before bed to increase the moisture in your eyes and help them to retain moisture overnight. Make sure to avoid drops that decrease redness, as chemicals in these drops frequently cause additional eye irritation. The other type of product you can buy over the counter are eye ointments. Lubricating eye ointments coat your eyes, providing longer lasting relief from dry eyes, which may be a good choice for you. But be aware that ointments are thick and can cloud your vision, so they should only be used just before bedtime. Please visit an ophthalmologist, who can review the specifics of your case and recommend the most effective treatment.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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