Summer is officially here (thanks Summer Solstice!). Temperatures are really heating up, but so is the fun! However, summer also bring about some common eye issues that you should be aware of and know how to resolve them.
A corneal burn is the technical term for a sunburn on the surface of the eye. This is caused by the same thing that causes a regular sunburn: UV light rays from the sun. Some symptoms of a corneal burn include blurry vision, dryness, or a gritty feeling in the eye. To avoid this type of summer hazard, wear sunglasses with full-spectrum UV protection.
- Stay in a dark room.
- Wear dark sunglasses if entering a lit room.
- Use a cool, damp washcloth over your eyes.
- Use Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or another over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever to help relieve any discomfort.
- Use eye drops as needed or tolerated to help keep your eyes lubricated.
Occasional Dry Eye
Occasional dry eye is an eye health issue that causes discomfort on the surface of the eye. This can surface as a number of symptoms, including eye dryness, irritation, redness, burning, itching, grittiness, excessive watering, blurred vision, or the feeling of something in the eye. Typically, this discomfort is caused by your eyes producing low-quality tears or not producing enough tears. However, there are several potential contributors to occasional dry eye, including:
- Glands in the eye not functioning correctly
- Air conditioning and fans
- Dry air
- Higher temperatures
- Windy or smoky conditions
Solutions for occasional dry eye also vary. They include topical and oral options. Topical options include eye drops (both prescription and OTC), warm compresses, and eyelid cleaners. Oral options include an eye vitamin that’s designed to relieve symptoms and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Typically, you think of “tired eyes” when talking digital devices and screen time, but the barrage of visual stimulation in the summertime can also cause this issue to happen more regularly. Tired eyes (also called eye fatigue and asthenopia) can occur due to blue light exposure, which is emitted by both digital devices and the sun.
Bright light and continuously adjusting between bright and dark spaces can cause eyes to feel fatigued, too. Activities that have high visual stimulations can also trigger eye fatigue. Think fireworks, drive-in theaters, theater shows, and more. Finally, lack of sleep can cause tired eyes, and people tend to get less sleep during the summer months due to the long days and busy schedules.
To avoid tired eyes, wearing a hat and sunglasses can help with bright and changing lighting. Getting consistent and enough sleep can also help relieve eye fatigue. Additionally, some eye vitamins are clinically designed to help relieve fatigue from the inside out. Finally, try and avoid using digital devices as much as possible. If you need to use devices daily, there are options for reducing the impact they have on your eyes, like the 20-20-20 rule.
Most think of allergies as a spring/fall problem, but there are several different plant pollens, seeds, and mold types are more common later into the warmer months. Each of these can lead to allergies, which can have ocular, nasal, sinus, and throat symptoms like:
- Runny nose
- Pressure in the sinuses
To avoid allergens, you can reduce your exposure by staying inside. Washing your face and hands as soon as you’re inside can also help keep irritants out of your eyes and nose. If you start to experience symptoms, you can try an OTC allergy pill, or some eye vitamins have ingredients proven to relieve symptoms from the inside out.
You may have noticed that allergies and occasional dry eye have similar symptoms, so how do you know which one you’re experiencing? Find out now.
There are certain eye infections that become more prevalent in the summer months, too. Conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye) can appear more frequently thanks to public swimming pools, lakes, and other water activities that may introduce bacteria to the eyes. Also brought on by allergies and viral infections, symptoms include redness, swelling, itching, discharge or crusting in the eye, and watery eyes.
Some conjunctivitis can clear up on its own with time. However, the most common care for this eye health issue is eye drops or oral antibiotics.
Styes can also be more common in the summer. Indicated by redness, swelling, a pimple-like bump, and tenderness, styes are typically formed when bacteria from the skin irritates an oil gland or eyelash follicle. They can appear on the inside or outside of the eyelid, and they’re typically relieved with a warm, wet compress or washcloth. Use this remedy for five to ten minutes between three and six times a day.
Summer is supposed to be full of fun, but these eye health issues can get in the way. Knowing what to look for and how to resolve them can help you enjoy this summer and live life to its fullest!