starfishes, sand, shells-1351559.jpgAs the temperature rises and we prepare for our summer activities, our eyes should be preparing to deal with summer weather and all the irritation it can cause. Here is what you need to know to prepare for summer in Santa Monica and the greater Los Angeles. 

Why Dry Eyes Are More Common in the Summer:

There are a few reasons why dry eye in Santa Monica and other Los Angeles cities tends to peek in the summer. If you notice dry eye symptoms for the first time, you should contact your Santa Monica optometrist

Increased Evaporation: The summer heat can accelerate the evaporation of tears, leading to a reduced moisture level on the eye’s surface. Sun exposure, wind, and air conditioning exacerbate this evaporation.

Allergens in the Air: Summer brings an abundance of pollen and other allergens, which can trigger inflammation and dryness in the eyes, especially for those prone to allergies.

Outdoor Activities: Summer often involves outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, and sports, which can expose the eyes to environmental elements like dust, chlorine, and saltwater, further contributing to dryness.

Preventing and Treating Dry Eyes:

Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps maintain overall hydration levels, including those of the eyes. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water daily, and increase your intake if you spend time outdoors or engage in physical activities.

Use Lubricating Eye Drops: Over-the-counter artificial tears can provide relief by lubricating the eyes and replenishing moisture. Look for preservative-free eye drops for frequent use, and use them as needed throughout the day.

Blink Regularly: When in front of screens or during prolonged activities, we blink less frequently, exacerbating dryness. Make a conscious effort to blink regularly to spread tears evenly across the eye’s surface.

Follow the 20-20-20 Rule: If you spend long hours staring at screens, follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away from your screen and focus on something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This helps reduce eye strain and encourages blinking

Protect Your Eyes: Wear sunglasses with UV protection when outdoors to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays and reduce the evaporation of tears. Wrap-around styles offer added protection by blocking wind and airborne irritants.

Consider Humidification: Using a humidifier in your home or office can help maintain a comfortable level of moisture in the air, preventing dryness in both your eyes and skin.

Add Lid Hygiene to Your Nightly Routine: Cleansing the eyelids with a spray or wipe and applying a 10-15-minute warm compress followed by an eyelid massage can help promote balanced tear production and fight ocular inflammation caused by blepharitis. 

Be Mindful of Your Makeup: Summer is prime social time in Santa Monica, which means looking your best and showing off your favorite makeup looks. However, not all makeup is eye-friendly. If your eyes are extra dry with makeup on, consider that it may be a culprit and switch to more eye-friendly options. 

The Role of Air Conditioning and Its Impact on Eye Health:

While air conditioning provides relief from the summer heat, it can also contribute to dry eyes. Air conditioners remove moisture, creating a drier indoor environment that can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. To mitigate this effect:

Use a Humidifier: Place a humidifier in rooms with air conditioning to add moisture to the air, helping prevent dryness.

Position Yourself Wisely: Avoid sitting directly in front of air vents or fans, as direct airflow can accelerate tear evaporation. Instead, position yourself to the side or away from the airflow.

Take Breaks: Turn down the air conditioner or go outside to allow your eyes to recover in a more natural humidity environment.

With a few simple adjustments to your lifestyle and environment, you can effectively prevent and treat dry eyes during the hot summer months. By staying hydrated, using lubricating eye drops, protecting your eyes, and being mindful of air conditioning, you can enjoy all that summer has to offer while keeping your eyes cool and comfortable. 

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