Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is a commonly prescribed treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. While CPAP machines are highly effective in managing sleep apnea symptoms, some users may experience dry eyes as a side effect.

A CPAP machine effectively treats sleep apnea by providing a constant stream of pressurized air to open your airways while you sleep. Many CPAP users may experience dry eyes during CPAP therapy. This article will delve into the symptoms and causes of dry eyes associated with CPAP use. We will also provide practical tips to help CPAP users alleviate this discomfort and enhance their overall therapy experience.

Understanding Dry Eyes and CPAP

Dry eyes occur when there is insufficient lubrication on the eyes’ surface. CPAP-induced dry eyes are often a result of air leakage or the forced air from the CPAP machine causing increased evaporation of tears. The symptoms of dry eyes may include redness, itching, burning sensation, blurred vision, and a gritty feeling in the eyes.

Causes of Dry Eyes with CPAP Use

Several factors contribute to the development of dry eyes during CPAP therapy:

  • Mask Fit and Leakage — An ill-fitting CPAP mask or excessive air leakage can lead to air blowing directly onto the eyes, causing dryness.
  • High Air Pressure — High air pressure settings on the CPAP machine can exacerbate the drying effect on the eyes.
  • Reduced Blinking — During sleep, CPAP users may unconsciously reduce their blinking, leading to increased tear evaporation and dryness.

10 Tips to Avoid Dry Eyes with CPAP Use

Fortunately, there are various measures CPAP users can take to alleviate or prevent dry eyes. Here are ten tips to help avoid dry eyes while using your CPAP machine.

  1. Optimize Mask Fit — Ensure your CPAP mask fits properly, minimizing air leakage. Adjust the straps and cushion to achieve a secure and comfortable fit.
  2. CPAP Humidifier — Consider using a CPAP machine with integrated humidification or adding a heated humidifier. This helps moisturize the air, reducing dryness and improving comfort.
  3. Keep the Bedroom Moist — Use a humidifier in your bedroom to increase the overall humidity level. This can help prevent dryness not only in your eyes but also in your nasal passages and throat, enhancing overall comfort during CPAP therapy.
  4. Eye Protection — Use a sleep mask or eye shield to shield your eyes from direct airflow. This can help reduce the drying effect and prevent eye irritation.
  5. Eye Drops — Over-the-counter artificial tears or lubricating eye drops can provide temporary relief and help maintain eye moisture. Consult with an eye care professional for recommendations.
  6. Blink Regularly — Be mindful of blinking during CPAP therapy. Remind yourself to blink consciously, especially if you tend to reduce blinking during sleep.
  7. Cleanliness and Maintenance — Regularly clean your CPAP equipment, including the mask, tubing, and humidifier, to ensure optimal hygiene. Cleanliness helps prevent eye infections and promotes comfort.
  8. Clean and Replace CPAP Filters — Regularly clean and replace the filters in your CPAP machine as instructed by the manufacturer. Clean filters ensure optimal air quality and reduce the likelihood of particles or irritants reaching your eyes, minimizing the risk of dryness.
  9. Consult Your Healthcare Provider — If dry eyes persist despite implementing these measures, consult your healthcare provider. They can assess your specific situation and provide personalized recommendations or adjustments to your CPAP therapy.
  10. Avoid Direct Airflow — Ensure the CPAP hose is positioned correctly to avoid direct airflow towards your eyes. Position the hose so it is not obstructed and allows the air to flow freely without blowing directly onto your face.

Additional Considerations

It’s important to note that dry eyes can be caused by various other factors unrelated to CPAP therapy. Factors such as allergies, environmental conditions, certain medications, and underlying eye conditions may contribute to dryness. If dry eyes persist or worsen, it is advisable to seek advice from an eye care professional to rule out other potential causes.

Trust Your Sleep to DreamZz Sleep Center

Dry eyes can be an uncomfortable side effect of CPAP therapy, but it can be effectively managed with proper awareness and proactive measures. The information above allows CPAP users to minimize dry eye symptoms and enjoy a more comfortable and successful therapy experience. Remember, if dry eyes persist or worsen, it’s crucial to consult with healthcare professionals for further evaluation and guidance.

At DreamZz Sleep Center, we want you to sleep better. That’s why our care doesn’t stop with a sleep study. After you’re diagnosed by a Sleep Medicine board-certified physician, the Dream Team will help you get set up with a CPAP machine and all necessary accessories. We will help you with mask fittings and PAP set-ups and will answer any questions you may have about your CPAP/BiPAP machine and supplies.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.