Why Do People Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

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People who sleep with their eyes open suffer from a medical condition called nocturnal lagophthalmos. This condition is a type of facial paralysis caused by bodily trauma, stroke, surgery or Bell's palsy. Nocturnal lagophthalmos is a malfunction of the orbicularis muscle in the eyelid. The condition may be temporary or permanent, according to optometrist Dr. Troy L. Bedinghaus.

Nocturnal lagophthalmos causes the eyes of affected individuals to dry out significantly. Because people who have this condition do not fully close their eyes when they sleep, their eyes do not receive the tear lubrication that they need to keep their eyes properly hydrated. Over time, this exposure to the outside environment may inflame their eyes and cause their corneas and conjunctiva to develop dry spots, scarring and ulcers if left untreated, according to Bedinghaus.

People who suffer from nocturnal lagophthalmos may wake up with eye pain, blurry vision, eye redness or the feeling of a foreign bodily sensation in the eye. They may also suffer from light sensitivity. Therefore, treatment for this condition may include the wearing of medical-grade hypoallergenic tape to keep the eyes closed while the patient sleeps. Other treatments include eye masks or gold weights applied to the outside of the eyelid or even surgically implanted into the inside of the patient's eyelid, according to Bedinghaus.