A large number of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) invade the ocular surface during prolonged eye closure (sleep); these leukocytes are commonly referred as tear PMNs. PMNs contribute to homeostasis and possess an arsenal of inflammatory mediators to protect against pathogens and foreign materials. This study examined the ability of tear PMNs to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS), an essential killing mechanism for PMNs which can lead to oxidative stress and imbalance. Cells were collected after sleep from healthy participants using a gentle eye wash. ROS production in stimulated (phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA), lipopolysaccharides (LPS) or N-Formylmethionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (fMLP)) and unstimulated tear PMNs was measured using luminol-enhanced chemiluminescence for 60 min. A high level of constitutive/spontaneous ROS production was observed in tear PMNs in the absence of any stimulus. While tear PMNs were able to produce ROS in response to PMA, they failed to appropriately respond to LPS and fMLP, although fMLP-stimulated tear PMNs generated ROS extracellularly in the first three minutes. Higher ROS generation was observed in isolated tear PMNs which may be due to priming from the magnetic bead cell separation system. The differential responses of tear PMNs in ROS generation provide further evidence of their potential inflammatory roles in ocular complications involving oxidative stress.