Summer Tips for Contact Lens Wearers

Spending more time outdoors during the summer months can sometimes be hard on contact lens wearers. Increased sun exposure, wind, and sand are usually the culprits if your eyes look red, irritated and tired by the end of the day. Following are some great tips for contact lens wearers to help enjoy those long summer days.


Wear Sunglasses

a man and woman in a convertible wearing sunglasses

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Wearing sunglasses in the summer sounds obvious. However, you would be surprised how many people run around, even in the summer, with absolutely no sunglasses. Besides making your eyes feel relaxed and comfortable, sunglasses protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays that come from the sun.

One not so obvious reason for contact lens wearers to wear sunglasses while wearing their contact lenses is that they provide protection from the drying effects of the wind. Contact lenses need adequate lubrication to function properly, and sunglasses provide at least one barrier against windy days that could significantly dry your eyes and contact lenses.

Your eyes may actually feel sore after wearing contact lenses after being exposed to the elements all day long. Also, sunglasses provide a way to accessorize a bit with summer outfits by adding some dazzling fashionable sun wear. Don’t stop at just one pair...get a couple pairs to change up your summertime attire.


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 you are exposed to. Plus, combining UV blocking lenses with sunglasses is a super easy way of doubling up on UV protection.


Try Daily Disposable Contact Lenses

a finger holding a contact lens

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With sun and wind exposure, your contact lenses have a better chance of causing irritation and redness instead of providing clear, comfortable vision. If you are experiencing a sandy, gritty feeling more than a couple times a day, ask your healthcare provider if you can try daily disposable contact lenses.

Often overlooked by some people when visiting their healthcare provider, daily disposable contact lenses have revolutionized the contact lenses industry in recent years. 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.

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, you never have to purchase expensive disinfecting solutions. Once you try daily disposable contact lenses, there's a good chance you will never go back to your monthly or quarterly replacement lenses.


Wear Eyeglasses Occasionally

a man wearing glasses

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Contact lenses are medical devices fit by a professional. However, they are still a foreign piece 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.

Photochromic lenses are available that change from light to dark when exposed to the ultraviolet rays from the sun. They lighten up once you go back inside. 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 tend to be a bit more common with contact lens wearers.


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, sometimes a serious infection, by six to eight times. That infection risk may raise significantly after spending all day out in the wind or on a sandy beach.

You wouldn't fall asleep without brushing your teeth, so don’t forget to take your lenses out. 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 great reason why daily disposable lenses are a great option. With daily disposables, you could jump into bed, remove your contact lenses, then pitch them into the trash can beside the bed without a second thought.


Don't Swim in Contacts

woman swimming in lane of pool

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It’s best to avoid highly chlorinated pools while wearing contact lenses, as warm environments are breeding grounds for acanthamoeba, an organism that is known for causing sight-threatening infections. Showers and hot tubs should be avoided as well.

Although this type of infection is very rare, it almost always occurs in a person with a history of water exposure while wearing their contact lenses, and usually that person is over-wearing lenses.

Acanthamoeba is found in higher concentrations in stagnant, warm rivers and lakes, but not found commonly in ocean water. Most optometrists and ophthalmologists feel that you are pretty safe if you are wearing a tight fitting swimming mask or goggles. As long as your eyes are not coming into contact with the water, your risk is low.


Use Re-wetting Drops Often

a woman putting eye drops in her eyes

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Be sure to instill some type of contact lens re-wetting drop 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 create environments where it is difficult for your tear film to keep up with the demand.

Instilling artificial tears or contact lens re-wetting drops frequently will keep your lenses hydrated, keep your eyes feeling comfortable, help you to maintain clear vision. Ask your healthcare provider which type of contact lens re-wetting drop or artificial tear is the best for your eyes.

All eye drop products you may find at your local pharmacy or big box store are not all compatible with contact lenses. Also, depending on your unique eye physiology, your healthcare provider may recommend a certain type of eye drop. Instilling these drops frequently will ensure longer hours of comfortable wearing time.

A Word From Verywell

If you are taking a summer vacation, try to plan ahead. Make sure you schedule your eye examination ahead of time 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.

Limit your wearing time on those long summer days, instill re-wetting drops frequently, and don’t top off your contact lens solutions. Follow your disinfection system’s instructions closely and be sure to dump any old solution out and fill your case with fresh, clean disinfecting solution. Always keep your healthcare provider’s business card handy in case you run into trouble.

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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.