Dr. Christian P. Guier, O.D., F.A.A.O., Florida Eye Specialists
Boating, gardening, going to the beach—some of our favorite outdoor summertime activities can, unfortunately, pose risks for our eyes. For patients who wear contact lenses, this time of year can come with dryness, irritation, and blurry vision. This is especially an issue for those who also suffer from dry eye. The good news is you can still enjoy all the fun of your favorite summer activities and find relief for your eyes.
Risks for Contact Lens Wearers During Summer Months
During the summer months, we experience increased exposure to the sun and ultraviolet rays, or UV. Despite the increased sun from long summer days outside, many of us don’t wear sunglasses. Without sunglasses or the proper UV-blocking contacts, UV exposure can lead to long-term damage to our eyes, such as accelerating cataracts. Without sunglass protection, trips to the beach and pool can also expose the eyes to possible irritants like sand, chlorine, and wind. Contact lenses need lubrication to work properly, but outside elements like wind cause dryness, leading your eyes to feel sore and tired.
For contact lens wearers with dry eye, eyes can get especially dry and uncomfortable under these conditions. You might experience blurred vision, stinging, burning, or a scratching sensation in the eyes. Eye redness and eye fatigue are also common after being forced to squint due to dry eye.
Tips For Contact Lens Hygiene and Comfort
First, it’s important to remember to never wear your contacts when swimming or showering. Ocean water, ponds, pools, and tap water can contain an organism called acanthamoeba. Though very rare, if this organism gets trapped between your contact lens and your eye, it can cause a painful infection that can lead to blindness.
Good contact lens hygiene is important all year round, but especially during summer months when there’s increased exposure to irritants. Don’t be tempted to fall asleep in your contacts after a long day outside. Use the contact lens solution recommended by your eye care professional, and never rinse or store your contacts in tap water. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water and dry them with a lint-free towel before handling your contacts. Keep your contact lens case clean and replace it regularly as well, ideally once per month.
Additionally, replace your contacts per recommended guidelines, or even consider switching to a daily replacement contact lens in the summer. Using dailies ensures you will always wear a clear, clean lens, with no leftover debris from sand or wind to irritate your eyes. If you have dry eyes, or if you experience a sandy, gritty feeling in your eyes, daily contact lenses could be a great option to find relief.
Choose the Best Contact Lenses for Dry Eye
Daily contact lenses are the best option for dry eyes. Single-use contact lenses do not require overnight soaking. That eliminates the need for disinfecting chemicals that can contribute to your irritation. Replacing your contact lenses every day will also limit the formation of deposits that make your eyes feel uncomfortable.
In addition to a daily replacement schedule, newer contact lens materials offer several other benefits. The latest lenses are designed to make it easier to place and remove your contact lens. The most recent contact lens technology also binds your natural tears longer to keep more moisture on the surface of your eyes.
Know When It’s Time for Treatment
If you are still experiencing dry, irritated eyes this season, it may be time to visit an eye doctor. There are many treatments for dry eye patients that can help reduce your symptoms and improve comfort. When you visit your eye doctor, you may discuss options including artificial tears, gels, prescription eye drops or plugs inserted in the tear ducts. At Florida Eye Specialists, we offer LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation, which uses warm temperature and gentle massaging to open blocked glands and provides immediate results for dry eye sufferers.
Don’t miss out on the best sights of the season. If your contact lenses or dry eyes are impacting your daily life, you don’t need to compromise your vision or your comfort. Make an appointment with an optometrist today.
Dr. Christian P. Guier, O.D., F.A.A. O., is a board-certified optometrist at Florida Eye Specialists. For more information on Dr. Guier and his specialties in general optometry, laser refractive surgery, glaucoma, retina, and oculoplastics, visit FloridaEyeSpecialists.com.