Your sleep position possibly affects dry eyes
A recent scientific paper published in Cornea 2017 (May; 36 (5): 567-571) did a study to see whether a patient’s sleep position affects dry eyes and meibomian gland function. I have already talked in my blog posts about humidity in the bedroom, and I have always been fascinated by sleep position. I think sleep position can affect us biomechanically depending on how we sleep, whether it affects our shoulders or twists our backs and hips. It can also affect us regarding periorbital swelling in the morning because people who sleep with their face on the pillow, make the cheeks more dependent and hence more swelling around the eyes in the morning.
Sleeping on your back in the supine position has a lot of advantages biomechanically on joints, and other advantages apparently include a better tear film. Sleeping prone with your face into the pillow not only gives you swelling around the eyes but results in a dryer eye. It can also result in more allergies because the eye is in closer contact with the pillow which contains allergens.
I digress. Back to the study done in the Department of the Ophthalmology at the Nassau University Medical Centre in New York State about whether your sleep position affects dry eyes. They looked at 100 patients who had dry eye disease and a control group of 25 age-matched, but asymptomatic patients. It was a questionnaire study about their sleeping habits and also to ascertain their ocular surface disease index (OSDI). Each patient was examined for dry eye presence and severity using fluorescein corneal staining and other tests. The other tests included Schirmer’s testing and the tear osmolarity levels plus of course clinical examination.
The doctors found a significant difference between those patients sleeping on their back (supine), to those sleeping on their left side, using green lissamine staining of the eye surface. The ocular surface disease index (OSDI) scores were higher in patients who slept both either on their right or left side and lower in those who slept supine on their back. However, there was no relationship found between sleep position and the degree of meibomian gland dysfunction. They concluded that patients who sleep on their side or face down and who have dry eye symptoms might well find that changing their sleep position to lying on their back can alter their dry eye symptoms.
It is very difficult when you are asleep to control the position in which you are, but if you do slightly wake up in the night think about this and pop yourself back onto your back or even on your left side or right side, rather than have your face pillow in the pillow. Let me know if it works for you.
Source: Cornea 2017 (May; 36 (5): 567-571)