The song was one of two songs that Swift wrote and recorded for the soundtrack to the film, The Hunger Games, the other song being "Safe & Sound". Swift first premiered the song during a performance in Auckland for her Speak Now World Tour, before launching into the song she told the crowd: "I'm really excited about it...but, I mean, you don't think I'd get in trouble if I played it now? Probably not, right?" The song was leaked before its official release date of March 20, 2012. A music video comprised as a lyric video was released on May 17, 2012 on Swift's Vevo account. The video consist of animation with the lyrics.
"Eyes Open" is a song of four minutes and four seconds in length. According to Swift she wrote the song "about Katniss's" relationship with the Capitol. It basically serves as a warning for her not to trust anyone — in many ways the opposite of "Safe & Sound". [It is] more frantic and fast-paced, a completely different shade of music."
The song garnered general critical acclaim from contemporary critics. While reviewing The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond, Matt Bjorke named "Eyes Open" as one of the "standouts" on the record. Scott Shetler of Pop Crush gave the song four stars saying that "Eyes Open" "bridges the gap between Swift’s typical radio-friendly tales about the teenage experience and her most recent release, the mature, haunting ballad "Safe & Sound," but described the production of the song to be "the least country-sounding song Swift has ever recorded." David Renshaw of EntertainmentWise described the track to be "rockier" than some of Swift's usual material.
The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 as the Hot Shot Debut at number 19 with sales of 176,000 in its first week. "Eyes Open" debuted on BillboardPop Songs chart at number 28, making it Swift's highest Pop Songs chart debut, later overtaken by "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" which debuted at number 18. The song would later reach number 20 on the said chart on the week ending April 28, 2012. The song also debuted on BillboardAdult Pop Songs at number 24 and later peaked at number 11 on the week ending May 12, 2012. The song became Swift's 16th million-seller and her second million-seller from the soundtrack to The Hunger Games. The song has sold 1,281,000 copies in the US as of September 2013.
Outside the U.S., "Eyes Open" achieved moderate success. In Canada, the song entered the Canadian Hot 100 and peaked at number 17 on the week ending April 7, 2012. In Australia, the song peaked at Australian Singles Chart at number 47 on the week ending March 26, 2012. On New Zealand, the song peaked at number six, became Swift's third top ten hit there, following "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me". "Eyes Open" also appeared in Ireland and UK, where it peaked at number 65 and number 70 respectively.