All About Dry Eye Blog

Dry Eyes? Are You Sleeping with Your Eyes Open?

sleeping with eyes openDo you suspect that you sleep with your eyes partially open? Perhaps someone has even told you that your eyelids tend to open while you sleep. Seem odd? Well, it’s actually not uncommon for people to naturally sleep with one or both eyes partially open. Scientifically known as nocturnal lagophthalmos, when your eyelids do not fully close during rest, the ocular surface is overexposed to the open atmosphere. In fact, even a hairline gap between eyelids during sleep can result in major eye irritation and discomfort upon waking.

But lagophthalmos doesn’t merely affect sufferers during sleep. Some patients with the condition also lack a ‘full blink’ during their waking hours. Insufficient blinking robs the eye of maximum ocular lubrication. This lack of lubrication often leads to dry spots on the cornea, leaving patients with gritty, itchy, tired eyes.

So what exactly causes this bizarre, yet common condition? It might sound a little strange, but nocturnal lagophthalmos is a form of facial paralysis. Such facial paralysis (sometimes temporary) can be caused by a number of different things including: infection, genetics, trauma, stroke, surgery or Bell’s Palsy.

It’s imperative to treat nocturnal lagophthalmos -and not just because it’s um, kind of creepy- but because when the eyes are left open during sleep, tears evaporate and eyes do not get the rejuvenation that they require. When there are fewer tears available to wash away debris like dust and bacteria, sufferers experience blurred vision and more frequent eye infections. Treatment for nocturnal lagophthalmos varies, so it is crucial to seek out the underlying condition before choosing a treatment method.

Not surprisingly, one of the initial ways to treat nocturnal lagophthalmos is by simply wearing a mask while snoozing. So, we thought we’d try just that! We recently tried a pair of specialized goggles that provided coverage, comfort and a hot compress option by TranquilEyes. The Eye Hydrating Therapy Goggles not only helped seal our eyes and protect them from drafts and drying out during the night, they also blocked all light for a comfortable, undisturbed slumber. (An added bonus? The flexible, hypoallergenic goggles come with beads that can be conveniently heated in the microwave to stimulate tear production. The beads can also be placed in the freezer to reduce eye puffiness and relieve itch.)

However, in more serious cases of nocturnal lagophthalmos, some find it necessary to tape their eyes shut before bedtime. Surgery is another option for sufferers. An ophthalmic surgeon can implant small gold weights into the eyelids which assist in closing them fully. If you think you may be dealing with nocturnal lagophthalmos, consult an eye care professional as soon as possible.

Tired of waking up with red, painful eyes? You’re in luck. You could WIN a TranquilEyes Eye Hydrating Goggles + Beads Kit (a $50 dollar value!) by posting anywhere in our forum, or by commenting on any of our blog posts! Start commenting and you’ll be automatically entered. We’ll announce the winner April 30, 2013. Good luck!



  1. I use these goggles and they’re wonderful. As mentioned not only are they great for keeping my eyes more moist, they also keep all light out when I have a migraine. I’ve been using mine for over four years now and I use gel in addition at night. I need to get a pair for my daughter too who also sleeps with her eyes half way open.

  2. Karen Galpin says:

    I have been to the opthamologist, told I have dry eye & was given a gel to use morning & night. I did that for a few years & then was given some drops to use instead. I am still using the drops, but find my eyes continue to be dry.
    After reading your “All About Dry Eye Blog”, I never realized that my eyes could possibly be slightly open while I was sleeping? Would any eye mask do the job to keep my eyes closed? Or do I need to look for a certain type?

    • Karen, glad you found the blog helpful. In fact, a lot of people sleep with their eyes partially open. As the blog says, even a hairline gap between your lids can cause serious dry eye pain in the morning.. Depending on the severity of your problem, a sleeping mask could help. We’re giving away tranquileyes’ eye hydrating therapy kit- which is actually a set of goggles. They ensure more closure than a regular sleeping mask, plus they provide hydration and full light blockage. You’re already eligible to win! Go ahead and post on our forum for an added chance at winning.. You can find details on our Facebook page as well:
      Thanks for reading!

  3. fullerjoy2 says:

    Will this help a dry eye sufferer who uses a cpap? Air can often “escape” from one of those (used for sleep apnea) and I imagine that increases the dry eye. I’m new to this blog-do you have any insights or suggestions? Thank you.

    • Hi Fullerjoy,

      Thanks for joining us and for your question.. I actually know of a few individuals who use these goggles, and/or similar models alongside their cpap. The goggles seal eyes completely while still being comfortable..These are definitely worth a try if your CPAP is creating or adding to your dry eyes.

      For more input– ask this question via our forum!: Join and become a member. (You’ll also have double the chance to win the goggles.)

  4. Are there any stores in Canada that sell these goggles? My mom has dry eyes and is developing pinguecuals in both of her eyes. All the eye doctor did was give her drops and leave her on her merry way. :/
    I just want to help my mom. :(

  5. anne froelich says:

    I have dry eyes. This sounds interesting

    • Hey Anne!

      Sorry to hear about your dry eye problem.. It’s actually not uncommon for people to sleep with their eyes slightly open.. Try sleeping with a mask, then see how your eyes feel in the morning.. If your eyes feel more refreshed than usual, you could be sleeping with your eyes (or even one eye) slightly open.

      Good luck!

  6. I had extremely dry eyes after eye lid surgery and everyone kept telling me to tape my eyes shut but the surgical tape hurt my skin. I found an alternative, it is a type of tape used for healing of scars. The brand I have is generic ScarAway. I cut it into pieces that would cover my eyes and it is much better than tape.

  7. Jan Dumler Thorne says:

    I’m a dry eye sufferer, but I recently suspected that my eyes may not be closed all the way during sleep. I wake frequently and found it extremely difficult and painful to blink when I first wake up. I’ve been using OTC drops for my dry eyes, but I will definitely check into this mask for nighttime use. Thanks for the article.

  8. Barbara Hicks says:

    Where can I purchase these goggles ? my family has seen me sleep with my eyes open and my eyes hurt really bad :(

  9. Dry eyes is a new thing for me, ugh. I hate it. Thanks for giving some insight (haha) into what causes it & how to help prevent it Brindlfr@brindlfr@.

  10. Thanks again for the insight into some of the causes of dry eyes- this sleeping with my eyes open is getting old, fast.

  11. Deb cain says:

    I hav been suffering from “dry eye” for approx 3 yrs. Altho it occurs every couple months n not every nite.. The result has still been excruciatingly painful n difficult to get relief.. Ive been using antibiotic ointment with pain reliever..cold paks..n at times, simply tape eye closed!!.. Im simply desperate to find relief from the pain. I hav other med issues that I cope with daily n unclear on if they are causing eye probs or not. Thanks…

    • Hi Deb. First of all, thanks for reading our blog. You’ve come to the right place! Have you been to an Accredited Dry Eye Center to truly diagnose your issue yet? (find one close to you, here: Of course, dry eyes can be caused by a number of things. I do find it interesting that you don’t deal with symptoms all the time as many do. Do you notice a pattern as to when your symptoms arrive? Perhaps during certain months/times of the month or seasons, for instance? Alternatively, what is your diet like? Omega-3’s can be very helpful for dry eyes. Sometimes dry eye stems from lack of a certain nutrient as well.

  12. I am kind of nervous because the article states it could be a more serious problem, but I have been sleeping with my eyes open ever since I was younger on and off and its not a little gap, my eyes are completely open, the only reason I know this is because my husband said he would have full blown conversations with me and it would take me snoring to know I was sleep. I am a little worried now

    • Hi Lynne and thanks for reading our blog! First of all, it should be said that many people sleep with their eyes partially open without it being abnormal. Sometimes issues like thyroid can be the cause of it. Do you wake up with very dry eyes? That in itself can decrease quality of life. Do you have other symptoms? Speak to your doctor if you feel it’s more serious. Of course, if you’ve been dealing with it most of your life as a singular issue- I wouldn’t fret too much. Good luck and let us know what you find out! :) .. You could also take to our forum where we have doctors and other dry eye sufferers to help answer your questions:

  13. Hi My proble is while sleeping my left eye not closing even i tried to close also i can feel that my eye ball rotating inside not closing. in the deep sleep my left eyes opening automatically.

    whats the solutin?

  14. DeAnna Marie says:

    Just tell me where to buy them because I need them and most likely won’t win them so just tell me where I can find them what are they called?

  15. while sleeping am not closing my eyes properly ,blinking and rotating eye balls like that am doing. ofter deep sleep am closing properly automatically but even though am getting tired,redness,irritating for 1minute at morning what i have to do for this problem please suggest me..

  16. Kristi Merry Philbrook says:

    I have facial para,his due to a brain tumor.i can’t tape cause they open underneath and scratch .i have had several weights and have had palpebral spring hinge in my eye..I will defenitely order these. Thankyou for this informative info..Kristi from Maine.

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