Summer Tips for Contact Lens Wearers

Spending more time outdoors during the summer months can be hard on your eyes if you wear contact lenses. Increased sun exposure, wind, and sand can make eyes red, irritated, and tired by the end of the day. Consider the following tips for contact lens wearers to help you enjoy those long summer days.


Wear Sunglasses

a man and woman in a convertible wearing sunglasses

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When you wear contact lenses, your eyes may feel sore after exposure to the sun, sand, and wind all day long.

Wearing sunglasses in the summer can help make your eyes feel relaxed and comfortable. Sunglasses are designed to protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays that come from the sun. Just make sure they are UV protection lenses.

And there's an extra reason to wear sunglasses when you have your contact lenses in. Contact lenses need adequate lubrication to function properly. Exposure to wind can significantly dry your eyes and contact lenses. Wearing sunglasses while wearing your contact lenses provides a protective barrier from the drying effects of the wind.


Wear Contact Lenses With Built-In UV Protection

a woman facing the sun

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Certain brands of contact lenses have an ultraviolet-blocking tint embedded in the lens design. UV-blocking contact lenses are not a substitute for a good pair of high-quality sunglasses, but they definitely will reduce the UV rays your eyes are exposed to. Plus, combining UV-blocking lenses with sunglasses is a super easy way of doubling up on UV protection.

Keep in mind, however, that wearing contact lenses alone without sunglasses will not protect your eyelids from skin cancer.


Try Daily Disposable Contact Lenses

a finger holding a contact lens

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If you are experiencing a sandy, gritty feeling in your eyes, ask your healthcare provider if you can try daily disposable contact lenses.

Daily disposable contact lenses are easy to use. Each day you can insert a brand new, perfectly clean contact lens. At the end of the day, you dispose of the lens. Changing your lenses on a daily basis is often the answer for people with chronic dry eyes or allergies.

Once you try daily disposable contact lenses, there's a good chance you will never go back to your monthly or quarterly replacement lenses. Do you really want to clean and disinfect your lenses every day? And let’s be honest. How many of us are really doing a good job of that every evening? Plus, with daily disposables, you never have to purchase expensive disinfecting solutions.


Wear Eyeglasses Occasionally

a man wearing glasses

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Contact lenses are medical devices fit by a professional. However, they are still foreign pieces of plastic in your eye all the time. If you wear contact lenses every day, over time, they might change the way your eye cells function. You might be surprised how good your eyes feel if you just wear your glasses a few days a week.

Don’t forget to bring your regular indoor eyeglasses if you take a vacation to give your eyes a break. Also, you never know when you might develop an eye infection, which tends to be a bit more common with contact lens wearers.

Photochromic lenses are available that change from light to dark when exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun. They lighten up once you go back inside.


Don't Sleep in Contacts

woman napping on sofa

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After an entire day of being active outside in the summertime, do not make the mistake of just falling asleep with your contact lenses in. Sleeping in your contact lenses raises your risk of developing an infection by six to eight times.

It is tempting, especially for people with high prescriptions, to leave them in. However, it is not a part of good ocular hygiene.

This is another reason why some people like to use daily disposable lenses. With daily disposables, you could remove your contact lenses, then pitch them into the trash can without a second thought.

Best practice should include washing your hands first before touching your eyes—even before removing your contact lenses.


Don't Swim in Contacts

woman swimming in lane of pool

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Do not ever swim with your contact lenses in. That includes pools, hot tubs, lakes, rivers, or the ocean.

Highly chlorinated pools are breeding grounds for acanthamoeba, an organism that is known for causing sight-threatening infections. Showers and hot tubs can harbor this organism as well.

Acanthamoeba is found in higher concentrations in stagnant, warm rivers and lakes, but not found commonly in ocean water. Although this type of infection is very rare, wearing contact lenses in the water is a risk factor.


Use Re-wetting Drops Often

a woman putting eye drops in her eyes

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Be sure to use contact lens re-wetting drops two to four times per day while spending those long summer days outside. Contact lenses need a very healthy tear consistency to be worn successfully. Spending a lot of time outdoors and out in the sun and wind can make it difficult for your tear film to keep up with the demand.

Instilling contact lens re-wetting drops frequently will keep your lenses hydrated, keep your eyes feeling comfortable, and help you to maintain clear vision.

Not all eye drop products you may find at your local pharmacy or big box store are compatible with contact lenses. Ask your healthcare provider which type of contact lens re-wetting drops are best for your eyes.


With contact lenses, it's best to limit your wearing time on long summer days. In addition to your contact lenses, wear sunglasses outside. Instill rewetting drops as needed. If you're using drops frequently, contact your eye doctor. Follow your disinfection system’s instructions closely and be sure to dump any old solution out and fill your case with fresh, clean solution. Don’t top off your contact lens solution.

A Word From Verywell

Try to plan ahead for your summer eye health. Make sure you schedule your eye examination ahead of any vacations so you can make sure you have an adequate supply of contact lenses. Don’t forget your sunglasses and your regular indoor eyewear to give your eyes a break. As a contact lens wearer, you can be comfortable in the hot, windy, sandy, summer. It just might need some special care.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Tips to Stay Safe in the Sun: From Sunscreen to Sunglasses. US Food & Drug Administration. February 2019.

  2. UV Absorption with Contact Lenses. American Optometric Association.

  3. Urgacz A, Mrukwa E, Gawlik R. Adverse events in allergy sufferers wearing contact lenses. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2015;32(3):204-9.  doi:10.5114/pdia.2015.48071

  4. Healthy Vision and Contact Lenses. American Optometric Association.

  5. Corneal Infections Associated with Sleeping in Contact Lenses — Six Cases, United States, 2016–2018. Weekly. August 2018;67(32):877–881

  6. Contact Lens Risks. US Food & Drug Administration. September 2018.

  7. Kading D. A two-week clinical evaluation of the safety of Systane Ultra in contact lens-wearing patients. Clin Ophthalmol. 2010;4:27-32.  doi:10.2147/opth.s8079

Additional Reading
  • Nichols JJ, Jones L, Nelson JD. The TFOS Workshop on Contact Lens Discomfort. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 2013.

By Troy Bedinghaus, OD
Troy L. Bedinghaus, OD, board-certified optometric physician, owns Lakewood Family Eye Care in Florida. He is an active member of the American Optometric Association.