Why do your eyes sting when you’re tired?

Sometimes it can feel like we’re tired all the time, whether you’re coming home from a long day’s work or you’ve been finding it difficult to get to sleep, leading you to wake up unrefreshed. If you’re familiar with feeling tired a lot, you might have noticed that your eyes seem to sting more often, particularly in the evening when you’ve been awake for the longest time. So what causes that stinging sensation when you’re tired?

Can being tired cause dry eyes?

The first thing to be aware of is that sleep acts as a recharging period for your body as a whole, including your eyes. If you’ve been missing out on sleep due to trouble dropping off or a combination of late nights and early mornings, then your eyes have less time to rejuvenate themselves after the events of the previous day. This can lead to a number of symptoms, including reduced tear production which can cause dry eyes.[1]

Dry eyes are more common in people who:

  • Wear contact lenses
  • Spend a lot of time using screens without the recommended breaks
  • Are often in heated or air conditioned environments
  • Drink alcohol or smoke
  • Are over the age of 50
  • Have had prolonged exposure to cold, dry or dusty air, or windy conditions


It’s also possible for certain medical conditions or medicines to exacerbate or cause the symptoms of dry eye. If any of these factors apply to you, you might find that your dry eye symptoms become worse when you’re tired or sleep-deprived, rather than fatigue being the sole cause.[2]

Can tired eyes affect your vision?

Tired eyes aren’t always caused just by not getting enough sleep. Many people who have eye strain describe their eyes as feeling tired, and this condition can be caused by doing too much close work – such as reading or using a computer screen – without taking the appropriate breaks. 

If this affects you, it can trigger a number of temporary eye problems such as blurred vision, twitching eyelids and dry eyes. To resolve eye strain, it can be helpful to reduce your screen time and get into the habit of taking regular breaks from your tasks to give your eyes a chance to relax. 

But it’s also the case that sheer fatigue can cause similar symptoms, like blurred vision or trouble focusing. This is for the simple reason that, like the rest of you, your visual system is worn out and needs a rest. This type of visual fatigue is more common in the evening and at night – because this is usually when you’ve been awake for the longest time – but it’s also possible to have ongoing daytime symptoms if you’re having significant problems with your sleep.[3] 

If you are having trouble sleeping, and as a result are experiencing blurred vision or any other visual symptoms, then it may be helpful to visit a pharmacist or doctor to help resolve this. This could correct your visual issues as well if they were indeed caused by fatigue. One thing that can help is to learn how to relax your eyes before bed, as this can make it easier to drop off to sleep.

Additionally, if your symptoms are having a significant effect on your ability to go about your day as normal, visiting your optometrist can help to spot any underlying eye problems. If there are any, they may be able to recommend treatments to solve the issue. Your optometrist will also be able to advise you on simple daily routines and habits to help protect your eyes from strain and overuse.

However, resolving issues such as eye problems and sleeping difficulties can take time, and you shouldn’t have to put up with the symptoms of tired eyes while you wait for treatments to kick in. Instead, discuss with your optometrist or healthcare professional the use of artificial tears to refresh your eyes, such as TheraTears® Dry or Tired Eye Drops which contain witch hazel to soothe irritated, tired eye symptoms.



[1] https://sleepeducation.org/lack-sleep-affects-eyesight/ 

[2] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dry-eyes/ 

[3] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/eyes-common-problems 



5 in 1 eye drops that rehydrate, revitalise and soothe

With so many eye drops on the market claiming to do a variety of different things, it can be difficult to know which ones to buy. TheraTears® solves this problem. Featuring vital electrolytes found in natural tears, our products are formulated to deliver 5-in-1 benefits based on your needs.

Other News


Dr Simon Cooper

Dr Simon Cooper

Working with the TheraTears marketing team, as well as with a number of other Prestige Brands, Dr Simon Cooper brings extensive knowledge and experience in a number of key areas. With a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge, and before that a BA in biological sciences from the University of Oxford, he brings immense technical expertise.

View Team Profile