Managing Dry Eyes During Summer Months

Medically Reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD on May 11, 2022
3 min read

The humid, dog days of summer are usually great for dry eyes. But in certain situations, you might still feel the irritation, sensitivity to light, and vision issues that come with dry eye.

If you do, there are steps you can take to feel better.

There are a few things that can dry your eyes out during the warmer months. They include:

Dry climate. Places with low humidity are hot spots for dry eye. Your body will make less tears in a dry climate, and the tears it does make will evaporate quicker.

Air conditioning. The forced air in your car and at your home or job makes your tears evaporate faster.

Smoke and dust. Nothing says summer like the smell of the grill. But the smoke can irritate and dry out your eyes. So can dust particles in your home, car, or office.

Swimming pools. The chlorine in pools can wash away your tear film. That’s the mix of oil, water, and mucus that keeps your eyes moist. Don’t worry about the ocean. Salt water is much gentler on the eyes than swimming pools. That said, if you get saltwater in your eyes, it will sting.

Sunlight. Too much sun makes your tears evaporate faster.

There are lots ways to manage dry eye during the summer months. You can:

Wear sunglasses. Wraparound sunglasses are best to protect your eyes from the sun, wind, and dry air.

Use eye drops. Over-the-counter drops can help mild cases of dry eye. If your symptoms are more severe, you may need your doctor to prescribe stronger drops. Your doctor may suggest lifitegrast (Xiidra), which treats the symptoms of dry eye like inflammation. Or they may want you to take cyclosporine (Restasis), which helps your body make more tears.

Try nasal spray. Varenicline (Tyrvaya) is a newly approved nasal spray that can be taken twice a day in each nostril to increase tear production. 

Wear special contact lenses. Talk to your eye doctor if your dry eyes make it hard for you to wear contacts. They may be able to prescribe a type made with different materials (like silicone) that might be more comfortable. But don’t wear them in the pool or the ocean.

Wear goggles at the pool. They can protect your eyes from the chlorine. Ask your eye doctor about prescription goggles if you wear glasses or contact lenses.

Drink plenty of water. Your tears need it to do their job. Try to drink at least 12 cups (96 ounces) of water each day.

Take a nutritional supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of tear production. Fish oil is a good source of omega-3s. Ask your eye doctor if a supplement would help before you start taking one.

Use a warm compress. Wet a clean washcloth with warm water and put on your eyes for a few minutes. This can help release the oil from the oil glands and soothe dry and irritated eyes.