Why Do You Have Watery Eyes in the Morning?

You may have had someone ask if you are crying if you tend to suffer from watery eyes. It seems every time you yawn or look at bright light that your eyes turn on the floodgates. This condition can be caused by a few things that aren’t related to being sad, but you may need to carry tissues to dab them once in a while. This article will help you understand why this happens and things you can do to help relieve it.

Causes of Watery Eyes in the Morning

If you have watery eyes when you wake up, it could be something quite simple or may signal a bigger issue. Most of the causes can easily be explained; however, some may need further evaluation. Here are some of the common causes why your eyes water just after you wake up:

1.    Light

When you first open your eyes, your pupils are widened due to the darkness while you sleep. Pupils stay dilated for a little while after you first wake up and tearing is a protective measure to protect your eyes from excessive light. Depending on the time it takes for your pupils to constrict, your eyes may water in the morning for a few minutes or up to an hour. This also happens because tears do build up during the night and have no way of coming out until you open your eyes and expose your tear ducts.

2.    Yawning

On either side of your eyes, you have a lacrimal gland that produces tears. It is the tiny opening on the inside of your eyes, just near the bridge of your nose. This is called the punctum. The opening helps the tears flow into your eyes and helps to drain them into your nasal cavity. When you yawn, you tend to squeeze the inner corner of your eyes. This squeezes the gland and pushes tears out. When you first wake up in the morning, you tend to yawn as your body wakes up and this can make your eyes more watery.

3.    Dry Eyes

Contrary to the name, people with “dry eye syndrome” may experience unusually watery eyes in the morning. This is because the dryness causes irritation to the eye. To combat irritation, the lacrimal glands tend to overproduce tears. After a long night's sleep, dry eyes tend to become more irritated so the glands step up production first thing in the morning.

4.    Irritants

If you are exposed to irritants (fumes, cooking odors, smoke, etc.) first thing in the morning, you may get eye irritation and watering after you wake up. This is because your eyes have been closed and protected all night by your eyelids. If you wake up to excessive irritants, your eyes will naturally water to try and protect them.

5.    Thyroid Disease

Having hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can both cause trouble with your eyes. While having a hypothyroid or low thyroid hormone can cause you to have dry eyes that water due to irritation, hyperthyroid may result in eye bulging that causes your eyes to water due to overexposure to air. This can be worse upon waking up in the morning to the point of needing tissues, as if you were crying.

6.    Eye Infections

If you’re suffering from an eye infection, your eyes may water to help clear bacteria or viruses from your eyes. With conjunctivitis, the eyes tend to crust over during sleep and are stuck closed. This may cause the lacrimal glands to produce excessive tears in the morning to help open them back up. Use caution with this as it can be contagious.

7.    Allergies

Allergy levels are highest from the early morning hours until about noon. Depending on what you are allergic to, you may wake up with watery eyes in the morning if it is that allergen’s “peak period.” Morning environmental allergens include ragweed, molds, burning bush, thistle, tumbleweed, and sage. Try to stay indoors and keep your windows closed in the morning when pollen counts are high.

8.    Radiation Treatments

If you are undergoing any kind of routine radiation treatments for any reason, this can cause excessive eye watering. This is especially bothersome if you are receiving radiation to the head, neck, eye area, and other areas of the upper body. Radiation can also cause dry eye syndrome that causes excess watering.

What Can You Do to Treat/Prevent the Problem?

If you think you may have an eye infection, see your doctor for treatment. If you have watery eyes in the morning and it is just a normal occurrence for you, you can try these things for relief right at home:

  • Apply Eye Drops - It may seem unusual to treat watery eyes with eye drops, but if your eyes are watering due to the irritation from dryness you can try a good over the counter moisturizing drop or gel.
  • Use Allergy Relief Drops - If you suffer from seasonal allergies, there are over the counter allergy relief drops that can help with inflammation and relieve dryness. This will help slow down the production of tears associated with eye allergies.
  • Wear Sunglasses - If the morning light is too bright for your eyes, try wearing sunglasses outside in the morning. This is especially important if you leave your house just after sunrise when the sun tends to be more eye level. It is also helpful to keep your blinds drawn and lights dimmed in your home for the first hour of the morning.
  • Take Deep Breaths - Yawning is a natural response to lower oxygen levels from sleep. As you wake up, you tend to yawn more to increase oxygen to your tissues. Practicing deep breathing upon waking up will help prevent tears being squeezed out by yawning.
  • Get Your Thyroid Checked - If your eye problems continue with watering and you notice any bulging or noticeable changes to their appearance, it may be a good idea to have your doctor check your thyroid levels. This is necessary if home remedies don’t seem to help and you have other symptoms like thinning hair, dry skin, weight loss or gain, fatigue, and joint pain.
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