Why Do My Dry Eye Symptoms Get Worse In The Summer?

Why Do My Dry Eye Symptoms Get Worse In The Summer?

After a long, cold Calgary winter, summer is a season many people look forward to. The warm weather, longer days, and outdoor activities are exciting and much-needed. But for individuals who suffer from dry eyes, this season can be particularly challenging. Dry eye symptoms can become worse during the summer months, leaving many struggling to find relief. Here are some of the reasons behind this seasonal aggravation of dry eye symptoms in the summer and some effective strategies to manage them.

Causes Of Summer Dry Eye Symptoms

  1. Temperature and Humidity
    One of the primary reasons for increased dry eye symptoms during the summer is the higher temperature and lower humidity levels. As the temperature rises, the air becomes drier, causing the tears on the surface of the eyes to evaporate more quickly. This rapid evaporation leads to a decrease in the tear film, which is responsible for keeping the eyes lubricated and comfortable. And in the heat of summer, air conditioning units are commonly used to combat the temperatures, but they further contribute to dryness by removing moisture from the air.
  2. UV Rays
    Another factor that exacerbates dry eye symptoms in the summer is increased exposure to sunlight. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause inflammation and damage to the surface of the eyes, leading to dryness and discomfort. It is crucial to protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with UV protection and a wide-brimmed hat when spending time outdoors. These measures help to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays and reduce the risk of exacerbating dry eye symptoms.
  3. Summer Activities
    During the summer, people tend to engage in activities that may contribute to dry eye symptoms. For instance, spending more time swimming in pools or the ocean can expose the eyes to chlorine or saltwater, which can irritate and dehydrate the eyes. It is advisable to wear goggles or use artificial tears before swimming to create a protective barrier and keep the eyes moisturized.
  4. Seasonal Allergies
    Summer allergies can play a significant role in worsening dry eye symptoms. Pollen and other allergens are more prevalent during this season, triggering an allergic response in susceptible individuals. When the eyes come into contact with allergens, they can become inflamed and produce excessive tears as a defence mechanism. Paradoxically, these "allergic tears" do not provide the necessary lubrication, leading to dryness. Managing allergies through antihistamines or avoiding exposure to triggers can help alleviate dry eye symptoms.
  5. Increased Screen Time
    The increased downtime that comes naturally with breaks from school and work may involve increased screen time. Whether it is using smartphones, tablets, or laptops, prolonged digital device usage can strain the eyes and exacerbate dryness. This is known as computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. To minimize symptoms, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break, and focus on something at least 20 feet away. Using artificial tears and adjusting display settings to reduce brightness and glare can provide relief.
     

Fight The Irritation Of Summer Dry Eye Symptoms

To manage dry eye symptoms during the summer, there are several strategies you can use. 

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water to keep your body well-hydrated, which can indirectly help maintain moisture in your eyes. 
  • Consider using lubricating eye drops or artificial tears to replenish the moisture in your eyes and alleviate dryness. These drops are readily available over-the-counter or from your optometrist and can provide immediate relief. 
  • Maintain a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, can contribute to eye health and reduce dry eye symptoms.
     

Prioritize Your Eye Health This Summer With Sunridge Eye Clinic

Dry eye symptoms often worsen during the summer due to increased temperature, humidity, UV exposure, allergens, swimming, and digital device usage. By understanding these factors and implementing appropriate strategies, such as wearing sunglasses, using artificial tears, staying hydrated, and managing allergies, you can alleviate the discomfort associated with dry eyes and enjoy the summer

If you are experiencing the symptoms of dry eye syndrome, your best line of defence is your optometrist. They can quickly diagnose dry eye syndrome and help you find effective relief.

At Sunridge Eye Clinic in NE Calgary, our staff is committed to the health of all patients. From infants to seniors, we are committed to helping you and your family stay informed about your health while learning how to care for and prevent various eye conditions, including dry eye syndrome. To schedule an eye exam, contact Sunridge Eye Clinic at 1-403-280-7518 or fill out the online contact form.
 

FAQ

Q: Why is it important to wear UV-protective eyewear during outdoor activities?
A: Wearing UV-protective eyewear is crucial during outdoor activities because it helps shield your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can lead to various eye conditions, including sunburned corneas, cataracts, and macular degeneration. UV-protective sunglasses act as a barrier, blocking 100% of both UVA and UVB rays. By wearing sunglasses with proper UV protection, you significantly reduce the risk of these eye conditions and ensure the long-term health of your eyes.

Q: How can I protect my eyes during water activities?
A: Water activities, such as swimming, surfing, or kayaking, require special attention to protect your eyes. Here are a few tips:

  1. Invest in swim goggles or water-sport-specific goggles: These goggles not only provide a snug fit and minimize water irritation but also offer UV protection, shielding your eyes from harmful rays.
  2. Ensure proper hygiene: Rinse your goggles with clean water after each use to remove any chlorine, salt water, or bacteria that can cause irritation or infection.
  3. Avoid opening your eyes underwater: Even with goggles, it's best to keep your eyes closed or wear swim goggles to prevent irritants or microorganisms from entering your eyes.
  4. Use lubricating eye drops: If you experience dryness or irritation after water activities, consider using lubricating eye drops approved by your eye care professional to relieve symptoms.

Q: How should I handle summer eye emergencies?
A: If you encounter a summer eye emergency, it's important to take appropriate steps:

  • For foreign objects in the eye: Avoid rubbing the eye and try flushing it gently with clean water. If the object doesn't come out or if there is persistent pain, seek immediate medical attention.
  • In the case of eye sunburn: Move to a shaded area and avoid further sun exposure. Apply a cool compress and use lubricating eye drops. If symptoms persist or worsen, consult your optometrist.
  • When exposed to chemicals: Rinse the eye immediately with clean water for at least 15 minutes. Contact emergency services or seek immediate medical attention for further evaluation and treatment.
  • Eye injuries: If you experience an eye injury, do not touch or rub the affected eye. Protect it by placing a clean, rigid object (like a cup or a shield) over the eye, and seek immediate medical attention.

Remember, prompt medical attention is crucial in these situations to prevent further complications and safeguard your vision. If you're uncertain about the severity of the situation, it's always best to consult with an optometrist or visit the nearest emergency room.

If you are experiencing an eye emergency of any kind, contact us immediately at 403.280.7518
*** Alberta Health Care covers all emergency eye care visits to Sunridge Eye Clinic ***


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