It’s late, you’re sleepy, and your eyelids are starting to feel heavy. But why is it so hard to hold your eyes open when you’re tired?

The answer is actually quite simple. Your eyelids aren’t just skin. They have muscles, too. And like any muscle, when you get tired, they get tired.

What is making my eyelids tired?

Like your arms and legs, the more you use your eyes throughout the day, the more fatigued they will be by the time you’re ready for bed. So, if you spend all day focusing on one thing, like reading or using a computer, your eyes will be even more tired and harder to hold open by the end of the day.

Also, if you’re in a dark environment all day, such as a poorly-lit office, your eyes will have to stay wide to take in more light. That extra exertion can also make your eyelids tired.

Ophthalmologist James Kaufmann, MD

“Taking periodic breaks from tasks involving prolonged focusing, such as reading or computer work, along with using artificial tears, can help relieve the feeling of eyelid heaviness involved with these activities,” CEENTA Ophthalmologist James Kaufmann, MD, said.

People with excess eyelid skin may be more likely to feel heaviness in their eyelids when they are tired. People with puffy eyelids from allergies or excess sun exposure may feel the same.

Now, heavy eyelids aren’t the same thing as drooping eyelids. That is a condition that happens as you age, and can be treated with a procedure called a blepharoplasty.

Heavy eyelids are a good signal that’s it’s time for bed. So get some sleep, and give your eyelids and all your muscles the rest they deserve.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Kaufmann practices in our Salisbury office. To make an appointment with him or any of CEENTA’s eye doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also request an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.

What is a blepharoplasty like? Learn more in this blog.

Are naps good for you? Learn more in this blog.

Should you ever not use eye drops? Learn more in this blog.


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