Vision and Sleep Deprivation: Is there a connection?

Much has been said about the negative effects of sleep deprivation on the mental and psychological state of a person, but did you know that consistent lack of sleep also affects eye performance? From twitches, blurry vision, to glaucoma, below is a roundup of common eye conditions that somehow find a link to sleep deprivation. Read on.

How Does Lack of Sleep Affect the Eye?

Sleep deprivation occurs when a person lacks sufficient sleep or experiences reduced quality of sleep, such as when his sleep becomes frequently interrupted. Generally, the required hours of sleep vary according to age group. Adults, for example, need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day. Meanwhile, toddlers require 11 to 14 hours.

When a person becomes sleep-deprived, he may experience many negative side effects, such as fatigue, irritability, and even short-term cognitive impairment. Much like all the other organs in the body, the eyes enjoy benefits from good quality of sleep through proper rejuvenation. Sleep gives them the chance to rest and recover. In addition, sleep also helps keep the eyes moisturized. Naturally, lack of enough or quality sleep will leave negative effects on eye performance.

Common Eye Problems Linked to Lack of Sleep

  1.   Dry eyes

Dry eyes disease is a common side effect of sleep deprivation. This refers to the condition when the eyes lack proper moisture and lubrication. Symptoms of dry eyes include a feeling of discomfort in the eyes, blurry vision, and even a burning or stinging feeling.

 Normally, the eyes need to have sufficient moisture. The protective coating of tears on the eyes helps wash away bacteria and other foreign objects. Moreover, since moisture helps keep the surface of the eyes clear and smooth, it becomes easier for light to pass through the eyes.

In one study, scientists found that lack of sleep significantly reduces tear secretion. Another research also suggests that sleep deprivation can upset the lacrimal system function in secretion, lipid metabolism, as well as protein synthesis, which all contribute to the occurrence of dry eyes disease.

To treat dry eyes, one may use artificial tears and other lubricating eye drops. However, persistent and throbbing dry eyes may already require a quick visit to the nearest ophthalmologist.

  1.   Eye Twitches

Consistent lack of sleep may also lead to eye twitches. This condition refers to when the upper or lower eyelid twitches or quivers involuntarily and continuously. Eye twitches are generally subtle and painless but still bothersome. They often last for only a few seconds but may also persist all day in serious cases.

Generally, eye twitches may be triggered by various factors. These include fatigue, stress, pollution, or even caffeine intake. Naturally, stress and feelings of exhaustion caused by lack of sufficient sleep may trigger eye twitches.

Fortunately, this condition may go away after a few days of rest and quality sleep without the need for medication. A warm compress may also help stop the spasms. If the symptom persists it’s best to consult your doctor.

  1.   Blurred vision

Blurred vision is a common symptom of sleep deprivation. The reason finds roots in how lack of sufficient sleep causes dry eyes. In some cases, this is also because of the tears that dried up while our eyes are closed, resulting in a blurry, hazy vision.

You can moisten your eyes by blinking multiple times or using eye drops. If the blurry vision remains for a few more days, it might be best to already see your doctor. Blurry vision can also be a sign of other more serious eye conditions, such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

  1.   Sensitivity to Light

If you ever spent a night wide awake, you might find yourself squinting at the sight of daylight. The reason is mainly due to eye fatigue. Since your eyes didn’t get their supposed night’s rest, they are more vulnerable and sensitive than normal. This is especially true if you spent the whole night blankly staring at something or enjoying your gadgets while in a poorly-lit room.

Common remedies for this condition include continuous blinking, using over-the-counter artificial tears, and taking a long rest.

  1.   Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a type of eye condition that causes damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is located behind the eye and is responsible for transmitting visual signals from the eye to the brain. Naturally, any injury to this nerve will affect vision performance. In serious cases, it may even result in total and permanent blindness.

To date, many studies published suggested that there’s a connection between sleep deprivation and glaucoma. In a 2016 study, researchers found that the risk of developing glaucoma was highest in people with fewer hours of sleep. Scientists believe that this connection is due to the reduction in melatonin release caused by sleep deprivation.

Common symptoms of glaucoma include a throbbing pain in the eye, headache, red eyes, and seeing halos around light sources. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to schedule a quick visit to the doctor right away.


Consult a Doctor Today!

Noticing changes in your eye performance? More than dark circles and puffy eyes, there’s much more that connects vision with sleep deprivation. It’s best to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist for a quick checkup.

Here at Arizona Retinal Specialists, our team of doctors can examine your eyes for possible diagnoses. You may visit our website or call us at 623 – 474 – 3937 to schedule a consultation.

NOTICE TO USERS is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on