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Why are my eyes so dry and scratchy when I wake up in the morning?

I am 29 years old. When I wake up in the morning my eyes usually (not always) dry, scratchy, and red. This has been going on for the past few years. I work in a lab setting and lately spend most of my day staring at a computer screen while I am writing. I don't think it is getting worse but it certainly is not getting better. I asked my eye doctor about this and he gave me some drops but I am hoping to learn about something I can do prophylactically. I am currently not taking any medication or using any eye drops.
The most likely possibility in this setting, of red and dry and itching eyes that comes and goes over a long period of time, is something called allergic conjunctivitis. Allergic conjunctivitis is inflammation of the eyes that is provoked by an allergy to some substance in the environment. The fact that the symptoms seem worse in the morning strongly suggests that the thing you are allergic to is something found in that environment. Common allergies that would be encountered mostly while asleep or in bed include mites (which live in the mattress and in the carpet). Mattress covers can be very helpful in this setting, as they trap the allergens inside the mattress and don't allow them to get out and irritate your eyes. Also, if you have carpet or other possible sources of mites or mold in the bedroom these may need to be removed. You should also talk to your primary care doctor. In addition to preventive measure such as mattress covers, certain medications can be helpful. Sometimes, anti-allergic eye drops can do the trick, but other times an oral antihistamine (such as loratidine) can be helpful to prevent symptoms. Your doctor can help you make this decision.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.
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