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A Look Behind Sleeping Eyes

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Have you ever wondered what your eyes do when you finally close them after a long day of visual processing and stimulation? Let's take a closer look at what happens behind your closed lids when your head hits the pillow.

Firstly, once your eyes are closed, they do continue to function in a limited fashion with the ability to sense light. This explains why a bright light being switched on or the sun rising in the morning can wake you up, while lying in a dark room will help you sleep.

During sleep your eyes don't send visual data or information about images to your brain. In fact, it takes almost 30 seconds for the connection between your eyes and your brain to reboot when you wake up. This is why it's often difficult to see complete and clear images when you first wake up.

Our bodies pass through five phases of sleep known as stages 1, 2, 3, 4, (which together are called Non-REM) and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During a typical sleep cycle, you progress from stage 1 to 4 then REM and then start over.  Almost 50 percent of our total sleep time is spent in stage 2 sleep, while 20 percent is spent in REM sleep, and the remaining 30 percent in the other stages. During stage 1, your eyes roll slowly, opening and closing slightly; however the eyes are then still from stages 2-4 when sleep is deeper.

During REM sleep, your eyes move around rapidly in a range of directions, but don’t send any visual information to your brain. Scientists have discovered that during REM sleep the visual cortex of the brain, which is responsible for processing visual data, is active. However, this activity serves part of a memory forming or reinforcing function which aims to consolidate your memory with experiences from the day, as opposed to processing visual information that you see. This is also the time when most people dream.

As for your eyelids, they cover your eyes and function as a shield protecting them from light. They also help preserve moisture on the cornea and prevent your eyes from drying out while your body is resting.

In short, while your eyes do move around during sleep, they are not actively processing visual imagery. Closing your eyelids and sleeping essentially gives your eyes a break. Shut-eye helps recharge your eyes, preparing them to help you see the next day. 

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With a heavy heart, we are informing you that we have decided to close our office for all care other then for urgent/emergency visits until further notice. This closure is in alignment with the CDC and AOA recommendations for Optometry during the COVID-19 outbreak.

We will continue to monitor our phones and email: admin@bristolfamilyeyecare.com and will respond to you in a timely manner. Dr. Bristol will be available for virtual visits through the app Eyecarelive as well as by appointment for in-office care for emergency needs.

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Staff will be available for product pickup from 9am-1pm for the remainder of this week. Call us when you arrive at the office and we will take your items to the foyer for you to pick up. Unfortunately, we will not be able to do any adjustments to glasses at this time. After Friday 3/27 we will continue to be available for pickup by appointment only.

We understand that you may have missed your yearly appointment and have a need for contact lenses. We are extending contact lens prescriptions for all current patients for an additional 6 months. Just call us at 512-263-3937 and we can get your order placed and shipped directly to your home for free!

If you need glasses at this time, we can remake a pair of glasses from your previous order.

Please understand that we are constantly monitoring this situation and will open our doors to resume business as soon as we are allowed. The health and safety of our patients and our team are of the upmost importance to us.

Sincerely,

Bristol Family Eyecare