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

Comments for Dry eyes from CPAP

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Oct 05, 2021
Have Had An Issue With Dry Eyes From Using a CPAP Machine NEW
by: Anonymous

This may seem strange to some CPAP users, but I have had very good results using my CPAP machine for close to three years now, but since I have been using a new mask and headgear, my eyes have started to feel dry and it has affected my daytime vision.

I recently talked to my eye doctor about my dry eye problem and she prescribed Systane eyedrops and I have been using them for close to two weeks now and haven't noticed a vision improvement, in fact, my vision seems blurry now. I also read some bad reviews about using Systane drops, so I will stop using those.

I have a mild case of sleep apnea and I like the idea someone wrote above by using an eye covering mask to prevent the CPAP air from drying-out my eyes.

Nov 25, 2020
lacrimal duct leakage
by: Michael E. Kelly

The issue is that the pressure is defeating the valves in the lacrimal ducts. Air then is going directly into the eye from the tear ducts. Drops for dry eyes really are not going to keep long term damage from occurring. Much like in diving or similar to quick altitude gains and losses you must equalize the pressure on both sides of the duct if you don't want problems. The total masks are the only real solution currently as they cover the eyes, nose and mouth providing equal pressure on both the nasal end of the duct as well as the eye end of the duct. Therefore there is not an unequal pressure to cause the a movement of air between the nasal cavity and eye. Only one manufacturer makes them and they do require getting use to and are the most limiting of mask choices.

Nov 13, 2019
Leakage thru Tear Ducts
by: Ginger Girl

I'm with Dragonheart! I have air coming through my tear ducts into my eyes causing my dry eyes. I don't see a good solution to this problem other than reduce the pressure, but then that defeats the positive pressure to keep the airway open. Also people who have silent reflux will also have red irritated eyes from the stomach acid coming through your ducts too.

May 26, 2019
Dry eyes
by: Rick

Came down with dry eye about the same time that I started on a cpap 12 years ago. Eye drops dont work.

I carry around a small 3" spray bottle filled with water that I use to spray my eyes probably 100 times a day. Thats the only temporary relief I get.

I use a full face mask and tried the other type but I breathe through my mouth so that didnt work.

Apr 15, 2018
Need help
by: Anonymous

Every night I remove the mask because my eyes start popping. The noise and the sensation prevent me from sleeping. Does anyone else have this issue? My doctor says my mask shows a good seal so I don’t think it is leaked air.

Mar 31, 2018
Retired Electrician
by: Ernest

My eyes were swollen shut this morning. I think the pressure is blowing air into my tear ducts.

Nov 27, 2017
by: Anonymous

I have used CPAP machine for five months now. I have dry eyes, dry mouth, pain in the neck and left arm. Never had these before. I have severe sleep apnea. But honestly, I feel no netter after five months. Sometimes I think I'd rather die than use this machine. Now having neck and arm pain on left side. I'm miserable

Nov 27, 2017
Wash Cloth eye mask Works!!
by: Anonymous

Just figured out that tucking a washcloth around the nose mask under the mask frame (blocking the gap between the nostrils that leads to the eyes) has stopped my eyes from getting dried out.

Before, I could only wear the nasal mask for 2 hours. Now, I add eye drops, tuck the corners of a cloth in the nostril gap of the mask and pull them down to the point where they hug the nasal cushion. It creates an eye mask itself. I then fold the excess cloth material over and nudge the cloth to make space for my eyes. I can sleep all night now.

May 04, 2017
Eye patch
by: Anonymous

I use Curad "eye-patches" with night ointment and sleep mask. I have also diffused the air coming from my machine.

May 04, 2017
by: Anonymous

I am using the ResMeds Airfit F20 and my eyes are so dry. My mask is not leaking, but the nob that connects the mask and the tubing is blowing up my face into my eyes. Went to my Sleep Center yesterday and the only solution she had was to wear a mask which I will. Heading to the Ophthalmologist next week. Hope I haven't damaged my eyes as the over the counter solutions are not solving the problem. Beginning to wonder if I need to make a choice between eyesight or sleep apnea. ????

Apr 28, 2017
by: michelle cormier

vcry helpful thank you

Nov 01, 2016
You missed a big one!
by: Dragonheart

CPAP generates a positive pressure inside the mask. Have you ever blown your nose, sometime very lightly and felt air coming out around your eyes, caused by your creating positive pressure in the sinus cavities.
So the same thing could be happening using the CPAP. Is this something no one has thought of or noone selling the machines wants to talk about? I think this is just as likely or more likely than air exhausting out of the mask.

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 airflow 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, losing 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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