Dry eyes from CPAP

by Dorene
(Frankfort il)

I have been diagnosed with chronic dry eye.

I also wake up with large bags under my eyes.

The puffiness is from the CPAP can the dry eye be the same reason.

What can i do?


Too many CPAP users complain having problems with their eyes, such as dry eyes, puffiness and swollen eyes.

I don't think there is anything more common than eyes problems from CPAP. So you're definitely in "good company".

An experienced eye doctor can recognize that a patient with dry eyes is using a CPAP, just because his eyes are drier than most others.

Causes of CPAP dry eyes

So, why do you have dry eyes while using the CPAP?

A leak from your mask is the main cause. While you're sleeping, the jet of air leak from the mask is drying your eyeballs. This can cause irritation, blisters, puffiness.

The air leak that goes into your eyes usually appears because:

  • your CPAP mask is leaking on the bridge of the nose,

  • the air is leaking somewhere around the seal but the leak is directed somehow towards your eyes.

  • you're sleeping with your eyes slightly open, so any air leak can touch the eyeballs.

  • the air from your mask's exhaust is reflected from your pillow back to your face, drying your eyes.

  • you may have Floppy Eyelid Syndrome, that causes your eyelids to loosen from your eyeballs during sleep, resulting in dry eyes (this may happen with or without a leak).

How to fix your CPAP dry eyes problem?

Obviously, the best way to stop having CPAP dry eyes, is to eliminate the causes for this problem.

  • fix the leaks - make sure your mask has a good seal around your face. Sometimes the mask straps shouldn't be very tight. Loosening the straps can eliminate the folds in the inner membrane that causes the leak.

  • discuss with your doctor what artificial tears eye drops you can use before going to bed and after waking up.

    GenTeal eye drops can also help, because they have a disappearing preservative, making them safer for your eyes. You can also choose from different strengths of the medication, for mild, moderate or strong situations.

    Eye drops and lubricants can help, but remember that your problem is still there. You're just treating the symptoms, and not eliminating the cause.

  • of the most effective solutions: use a sleep mask. The sleep mask is a piece of padded material that goes over your eyes and is held in place by an elastic band. With a little adjustment, your CPAP mask should fit right over it.

  • swim goggles - Sometimes the sleep mask can affect the leaks from your mask. If you can't use a sleep mask, then try the swim goggles. This will definitely prevent any leak to access your eyeballs.

  • change your nasal or full face mask to nasal pillows. Thy don't have exhaust holes that can direct the air into your eyes.

I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

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Sep 20, 2016
Dry eyes - CPAP
by: Anonymous

I've tried all recommendations seen here to no avail. I've taped over some of the vent holes. I even attached a plastic vane to redirect air flow but it created other problems.

Using the ointment prescribed by ophthalmologist was only a partial solution. I've used an under the nose mask (DreamWear) which reduced the problem but is not as effective for the intended purpose. I now sleep with a moistened cloth over my eyes.

My eyes are still puffy and I must use artificial tears several times a day. Clearly, CPAP mask design does not belong in the XXI century.

Aug 27, 2015
Chronic dry eyes from CPAP
by: cryinginNC

I have tried everything to stop the mask leaks that is causing my chronic dry eyes. I'm at a loss on what to do.

I've tried, swim goggles, plastic wrap, loosing the mask straps, tightening the mask straps, you name it! I cannot afford the humidifying goggle kits.

My machine pressure started out on the highest level of pressure, it was at 20 something. Finally, they reduced the pressure to 18 but it doesn't help the mask leaking.

I've also tried the nasal masks and every type of full face mask.

The pressure is just so forceful that I suppose I will just live with this side-effect for the rest of my life because I have searched the internet and I keep reading the same responses over and over.

I have 'severe sleep apnea'.

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