Dr. Zargar Eyecare
86 Major MacKenzie Dr W Richmond Hill ON L4C3S2 (905) 883-8182
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Why Are My Eyes Red When I Wake Up?


Why Are My Eyes Red When I Wake Up?

an man in pajamas examines his eyes in the mirror soon after waking up due to redness

If the alarm clock waking you up before dawn isn’t enough, walking into the bathroom and looking in the mirror to find a bloodshot-eyed version of yourself staring back at you isn’t a good way to start the day. 

Waking up with red eyes often comes with discomfort and concern as to what is happening to your eyes. If you’ve ever experienced bloodshot eyes in the morning, know that you’re not the only one. There are several explanations for it, including dry eye disease.

Some of these reasons are minor and have simple solutions, while others are more serious. Red, inflamed, or itchy eyes may be the first sign of a condition that will seriously impair your vision.

Because there are multiple things that may be causing your red eyes, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it could be. It’s best to make an appointment with your trusted optometrist to narrow down what the causes are so you can get the support you need.

Dry Eye Disease

Dryness is the most common cause of red eyes. Healthy eyes contain liquid, which keeps them moist and functional. Occasionally, the liquid will dry up. 

When you have dry eyes, you don’t have enough liquid keeping them lubricated, a variety of factors that disrupt the healthy tear film can cause the issue. The tear film is composed of three layers: fatty oils, aqueous fluid, and mucus.

Tear instability causes inflammation and damage to the eye’s surface. Your eyes may sting, burn, or itch. Other signs of dry eye disease are:

  • Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Redness
  • The sensation that something is in your eyes
  • Blurred vision or eye strain

Dry Eye Management

Most people who suffer from occasional or mild dry eyes can get by with over-the-counter eyedrops. You have other options if your symptoms are severe and persistent. The underlying cause of your dry eyes will determine what you do.

Some treatments aim to treat or reverse the condition that is causing your dry eyes. Other treatments can help to improve the quality of your tears or keep them from draining too quickly. Below are just a few of the many dry eye therapies we offer at Dr. Zargar Eyecare.

Artificial Tears

Artificial tears are eyedrops that are used to lubricate and moisturize the outer surface of your eyes. These eyedrops can be used to treat dry eyes caused by aging, medications, hormone changes, eye surgery, or external factors such as windy or smoky environments.

IPL Therapy

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light Therapy) was initially developed for dermatological applications. Light is used to target blood vessels around the eye, which reduces inflammation and aids in the liquefaction of meibomian gland blockages, which can prevent the eye from producing the oil layer of tears.

Eyelid Hygiene

To treat a moderate blockage of your meibomian glands, your eye doctor may advise you to apply warm compresses to your eyelids for a few minutes twice a day. An over-the-counter lid scrub may also be advised.

Lack of Sleep

Tired eyes are often bloodshot. This is because a lack of sleep can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches your eyes, causing blood vessels to dilate and appear red.

If your eyes are kept open for an extended period due to a lack of sleep, the cornea won’t be well lubricated, which can cause dryness and redness. The best way to soothe bloodshot eyes would be to get more sleep, as well as use artificial tears and cool compresses to relieve discomfort.


Itching, redness, and tearing can be caused by pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and other allergens. Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine may help whether your allergies are seasonal or year-round.

a woman with dry eyes in the morning, due to allergies


Redness can occur as a result of an eye injury. Injuring your eye could be as simple as accidentally scratching it with a sharp fingernail while you’re asleep.

When you injure your eye, the blood vessels within it enlarge and dilate. This brings blood and cells to the injured area to heal and repair it. A red eye as a result of an injury is also a warning sign that something is wrong with your eye.


A bloodshot eye can sometimes indicate a serious condition. Acute angle-closure glaucoma, for example, is a severe eye condition that can cause red eyes.

This happens when the fluid pressure inside the eye rapidly rises. This severe form of glaucoma usually results in:

  • Sudden eye redness
  • Severe eye pain
  • Vision impairment (usually occurring in only one eye)

Call Your Optometrist

Many factors can cause bloodshot eyes. Most of the time, the causes of dry, red, irritated eyes are minor and treatable at home.

Other causes of red eyes, on the other hand, can be more serious and endanger your vision and overall health. For an accurate diagnosis, always consult your healthcare provider. If you’re concerned about waking up with eye redness, contact us today to find the cause so we can make a treatment plan for you.

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