Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: sleep | eyes | open | cornea | eye | drops

Why Do I Sleep With Eyes Open?

Thursday, 11 October 2012 09:17 AM

Question: I have a strange problem. I’m not sure if it’s even a problem: When I sleep, my wife tells me my eyes are often open slightly. I do wake up with dry eyes sometimes, but could there be other serious issues behind this?

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
Yes. Take your wife's observation as an important reason to see your doctor for an evaluation without delay before you have permanent corneal damage. The cornea is the clear tissue in the very front surface of your eye that light is transmitted through first before being refracted by the lens and reaching the nerve rich surface of your retina for light perception and recognition. The clear corneal tissue at the front of your eye is easily subject to damage when not lubricated with tears. The dry eye sensation you describe comes from a lack of lubricating tears and may have a multiple causes including structural change of supporting tissues, neurologic, endocrine, and auto-immune reasons, possibly worsened by medicines you may be using.
Lack of corneal lubrication may lead to ulceration and sometimes permanent damage to the cornea.
Usually the cornea is able to recover from abrasions and superficial insults very rapidly, as long as it is well lubricated, as its only nutrient supply comes from tears. It has no direct blood supply. Permanant corneal scarring or opacification has no treatment but corneal transplantation. This is clearly preventable for you. As a temporizing measure, ask your pharmacist for some artificial tear solution (ointment is messy but may be best for nighttime use as this will last much longer than drops alone) and apply this frequently to supplement your own lack of tearing until you are evaluated. See your personal physician for guidance on the next step in your evaluation and be sure to request a referral to an opthamologist also.

© HealthDay

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Sleeping with eyes open can damage corneas.
Thursday, 11 October 2012 09:17 AM
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