The Clearview Blog

How sleeplessness can affect your eyes

June 12, 2014

Everyone loves a great night’s sleep, but getting one is becoming increasingly difficult in our modern, fast-paced world. Whether it’s due to our dependency on coffee or our obsession with social media, turning your brain off at night can be a difficult chore and the resulting lack of sleep can have adverse effects on the health of your eyes. Our eyes require at least five hours of rest every night to recover from being active all day and not allowing for an appropriate amount of sleep can lead to a host of eye problems.

How sleeplessness can affect your eyes

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes resulting from a lack of sleep are caused by your eyes not being able to properly moisturize themselves with tears overnight. This can cause your eyes to feel very uncomfortable due to a burning or stinging sensation. Your eyes may also feel itchy which can make it tempting to touch them, although this will just make the sensation worse. If more sleep is not an option to treat your dry eyes, it is recommended that you use eye drops, stay hydrated, and avoid exposing your eyes to circumstances which could potentially irritate them further.

Blurred Vision and Light Sensitivity

When your eyes are overly exhausted and have not had adequate time to recharge, it is not uncommon for you to experience blurred vision and a sensitivity to light. Blurred vision can be characterized as either not being able to focus or having your eyes perceive two images of a single object (also called double vision). Light sensitivity is caused by an inability of your eye to regulate how much light is being collected, sometimes due to exhaustion. There is no easy way to ameliorate these symptoms besides getting more sleep and giving your eyes adequate time to rest.

Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

One of the most severe eye concerns due to lack of sleep, Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (or AION) is characterized by a loss of vision. AION is caused by an insufficient circulation of blood within the eye which can damage the optic nerve. However, AION is a more rare and extreme result of sleep deprivation which mostly occurs in older individuals with a history of sleep apnea. Individuals who develop AION normally also have an irregularly shaped optic disc and also suffer from cardiovascular conditions which could cause a drop in blood pressure overnight such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol levels.

The negative effects of sleeplessness on your eyes are not worth having an evening coffee or staying up to catch another episode of a reality show that you would never admit to watching. A full night’s sleep can work wonders for the health of your eyes and you should always try your best to attain one. Cut down on the stimulants and stress in your life and try to get to bed earlier! If you experience any other of the above symptoms for an extended period of time, it is recommended that you seek the opinion of a medical professional.


Have any advice for falling asleep earlier and sleeping longer? Let us know!