Lagging Behind: Lagophthalmos

For patients who wake up with gritty, red, and aching eyes, lagophthalmos may be to blame. Lagophthalmos occurs when patients’ eyes do not fully close during sleep. Patients who have this condition may have been told they “sleep with their eyes half open.” This involuntary process exposes the conjunctiva and cornea to the ambient environment. Evaporation of their tears leads to extreme dryness and discomfort. Imagine a staring contest lasting all-night long; patients with lagophthalmos are unable to completely close their eyes while sleeping.

Treatment for lagophthalmos can be supportive or surgical. Supportive measures include gel drops before bed, sleep mask usage, and decreasing circulating air (turning off fans and air conditioning). Using artificial tears throughout the day can rehydrate the corneal surface. If these measures fail to produce relief, surgical intervention can alter lid positioning so the exposed cornea can be protected during sleep.

If you suspect you or a loved one has lagophthalmos, stop by today; we can help!

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