top of page

Not Enough Shut Eye: How a Lack of Sleep Can Affect Your Eye Health

woman rubbing eye and waking up

Whether you are a night owl or a rooster crowing at the break of day, you need enough sleep to perform your daily (or nightly) tasks with precision and pep. You also need adequate sleep to protect both your vision and your eye health. Here are a few reasons why.


Sleep = Eye Health

  1. Your eyes are complex organs that function as long as you are awake, but just like the rest of your body, they need rest to function at their optimum capacity.  

  2. Eyes are constantly in contact with environmental factors such as dust, pollution, and light which causes strain and harm that can only be repaired through the rest and rejuvenation that sleep allows.  

  3. Sleep relaxes the eyes and allows them to restore and prepare for another day of seeing.  

  4. Tears are produced during sleep. This is essential for lubricating and nourishing the eyes.


Eye Health & Vision Health

Even missing a few hours of sleep can negatively affect your eye and vision health and lead to an increased risk of long-term eye health issues. Some of these issues are reversible and can be relieved, while others may require the attention of an optometrist, a.k.a. an eye doctor.


Symptoms of eye problems resulting from a lack of sleep can include:

  • Dry, red, and/or itchy eyes

  • A sensation of pressure in the eye

  • Dark circles under your eyes

  • Twitching eyelids

  • Blurred vision

  • Eye strain

  • Eye/visual fatigue

  • Sensitivity to light and glare

Long-term Eye Health & Vision Health Problems

While no study has found that a lack of sleep causes any of the following health problems, many have proven a correlation between insufficient sleep and the development/severity of them.


Myopia (nearsightedness)

Adolescents who regularly get less than 5 hours of sleep are up to 40% more myopic than their peers who regularly sleep 9 hours. While this is correctable with glasses or contact lenses, severe myopia can lead to retinal detachment and macular degeneration.



Glaucoma patients who sleep less than three or more than 10 hours are 3 times more likely to have optic nerve damage than those who sleep 4 to 9 hours per night.  Sleep apnea is a risk factor for developing glaucoma as well. 


Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Sleep apnea can increase the risk of Ischemic Optic Neuropathy. This condition can cause a sudden, sometimes permanent, loss of vision. 



A complication of diabetes can be damaged blood vessels inside the eye that can lead to vision loss called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetics who sleep more or less than 6-8 hours have been found to have higher rates of diabetic retinopathy.

Learn More About Eye Health in Edmonton, Westlock, or Leduc

The friendly and knowledgeable team of professional optometrists, opticians, and eye doctors at Optometrists’ Clinic Inc. can help you learn more about eye and vision health. Call us today to schedule an appointment or to inquire about the types of eye exams we offer.



bottom of page