Nothing beats an outdoor lifestyle, especially when the sun’s out and surfs up! However, while fresh air and Vitamin D are good for your mind and body, spending time outdoors can be harsh on your eyes. Between glare from the sun, wind, and all the dust and debris floating around, your peepers can take a real beating. If you're not careful, squinting against the sun's rays, and dealing with dry, irritated eyes can cause serious issues down the line.


You can't ignore the harsh realities of outdoor eye exposure, but the good news is, there are some simple steps you can take to protect your vision and keep your eyes healthy, even when you're spending a great deal of time in the beautiful outdoors.


Common Outdoor Eye Issues and How to Prevent Them

Whether you're hiking, playing sports, or just enjoying a day in the sun, there are several common issues that can affect your eyes while outside.


UV Damage

Extended exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause serious eye conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and photokeratitis (sunburn of the cornea). And worryingly, the eyelid region accounts for 5% to 10% of all skin cancers*.

Always wear sunglasses when outside in the sun and choose options that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and minimise direct sun exposure between 10am and 4pm, as this is when UV radiation is at its strongest.


Dry Eyes

Windy or arid conditions can cause your eyes to lose moisture, leading to dry eyes. Symptoms may include a stinging, burning, or itchy sensation in the eyes, redness, sensitivity, and even blurred vision.

If spending prolonged periods outside in a dry climate, apply lubricating eye drops to keep your eyes moist. Wear sunglasses and drink plenty of water to maintain overall hydration.



While most common in spring, outdoor allergens such as pollen, dust, and mould can appear at any time, triggering allergic reactions in many Australians. The result is itchy, watery, and red eyes that feel gritty and irritated.

Wearing wraparound sunglasses can help block allergens from entering your eyes. If you are known to suffer from hay fever or other allergies, take antihistamines half an hour before going outdoors, and stay inside when pollen counts are high.


Eye Strain

Exposure to bright sunlight can cause your eyes to squint and strain, leading to headaches, fatigue, and temporary blurred vision.

Wear polarised sunglasses as they reduce glare and make it easier for your eyes to focus. You should also take regular breaks in shaded areas to give your eyes a rest from intense glare.


Choosing the Right Sunglasses for Optimal Protection

Sunglasses not only provide protection from the sun's harsh rays, but they can also act as a shield, preventing dust and debris from entering and irritating your eyes. Wearing sunglasses when outdoors is always recommended regardless of the weather conditions, however, choosing the right pair is important. Don't just grab the first pair you see, take the time to find sunglasses that will actually provide optimal outdoor eye protection.


Look for sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Cheap, poorly made sunglasses may look stylish, but they won't do much to safeguard your vision. And just because sunglasses are tinted, it doesn’t necessarily mean they offer UV protection. The size and shape of the frames matter too. Wraparound styles that cover the sides of your eyes offer the best coverage. Larger lenses also help prevent light from entering around the frames. Finally, don't forget to pick a pair that fits your face comfortably - nothing ruins an outdoor adventure faster than sunglasses that slip down your nose or pinch your temples.


Before you head out into the great outdoors, make sure you've invested in a quality pair of sunglasses that will keep your eyes healthy and safe. Your local optometrist will typically stock a range of sunglasses that provide the best sun protection possible, speak to them for their recommendation.


Don't Take Your Eyes for Granted - Start Prioritising Their Care Today

We tend to take our vision for granted until something goes wrong. But the truth is, our eyes need just as much care and attention as the rest of our body, especially when we're exposed to the elements.


Whether you're walking, gardening, or enjoying a day at the park, the sun, wind, and other environmental factors can wreak havoc on your eyes. With a little bit of proactive care, you can protect your eyes and keep them healthy for years to come. Make sure you always ‘slide’ on a pair sunglasses or other protective eyewear when you're outside. You should also ‘slap’ on a hat with a brim to provide additional shade and make sure you stay hydrated, too. If you wear contact lenses, be extra diligent about cleaning and disinfecting them before and after outdoor activities.


Make eye health a priority, and you'll be able to enjoy the great outdoors without worrying about the long-term consequences.


The staff at Abernethy Owens are here to help with professional eye care solutions including comprehensive eye tests, dry eye treatment, diagnostic imaging, Myopia control, and ortho k lenses. Perth is home to five practices, if you need an optometrist near Fremantle, Floreat, Kardinya, Rockingham, or Woodvale, reach out to us today. Book online now or call 1800 411 744.