How hot and cold weather affects contact lenses

Medically reviewed by Sharon Copeland, Eye Health Advisor, Ophthalmologist and Eye Surgeon at Feel Good Contacts.

How does hot weather affect contact lenses?

Despite urban myths, your contact lenses will not melt in hot weather, and while hot weather shouldn't have significant effects on your contact lenses, it can still affect your wearing experience.

For example, hot weather causes us to sweat more, and if sweat gets between your contact lenses and your eye, this can lead to eye infections as well as causing your eyes to sting.

Another side effect of hot weather is that the lenses are more prone to drying out quickly as the heat can evaporate the tear film, which keeps your contact lenses moist.

woman touching eye

Tips for wearing contact lenses in hot weather

The following tips can help make wearing contact lenses easier and safer when the weather is hot:

  1. Wear an absorbent headband - this can prevent sweat from running into your eyes and causing stinging or infection.
  2. Protect your eyes with UV sunglasses – UV protection sunglasses are not only important for shielding your eyes from harmful UV rays, but they can also provide an extra barrier to prevent your tears from evaporating quickly in warm weather.
  3. Don’t swim with contact lenses – the hot weather may tempt you to dive into a swimming pool, but make sure you remove your contact lenses beforehand as wearing contact lenses while swimming can lead to eye irritation and diseases such as Acanthamoeba Keratitis.
  4. Use eye drops if you find the hot weather is drying out your lenses. Speak to your optician about which drops are most suitable for you.

Can my eyes get sunburnt?

The top layers of your cornea can get sunburnt. This is why it's a good idea to wear UV protection contact lenses. Nevertheless, it's still important to wear sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection to be extra safe.

Is cold weather bad for contacts?

Similarly to hot weather conditions, cold weather can be bad for contacts as it can cause your contact lenses to dry out faster, especially when it’s windy too.

Nevertheless, just as contact lenses can’t melt in your eyes when the weather is hot, nor can they freeze in your eyes when the weather is cold. The temperature of your corneas keeps them warm to prevent this.

Tips for wearing contact lenses in cold weather

These tips can aid healthy contact lens wear during the colder months:

  1. Stock up on eye drops – eye drops and artificial tears can help to rehydrate your eyes when cold air dries them out; just make sure they are compatible with your contact lenses.
  2. Drink plenty of water – this can also help create more tears and therefore fight dry eye with contact lenses during the winter months.
  3. Stay away from direct heat – when it’s cold outside, we tend to crank up the heating; however, heat can also cause dry eyes and lead to irritation for contact lens wearers.
  4. Use a humidifier – if you have to have the heating on full blast, a humidifier can help your eyes retain moisture so that they don't dry out.
  5. Switch to wearing glasses – if the cold weather is contributing to ongoing eye problems with contact lenses, consider giving your eyes a break and switching to glasses. Wearing glasses in windy conditions will also act as a barrier to stop your tear film from evaporating and prevent the drying effects of the wind.

At what temperature do contacts freeze?

Contacts can freeze while in contact lens solution at about 5°F (-15°C). Nevertheless, the frozen solution will protect the lenses from damage. Lenses can freeze without solution; however, they are more likely to dry out first.

Is it bad to leave delivered contacts outside when the weather is hot or cold?

It's absolutely fine to leave contact lenses outside in the hot or cold. As long as their packaging is unopened, they shouldn't be affected.

Care for your contact lenses

No matter what the weather, be it hot or cold, windy or sunny, make sure you care for your contact lenses by cleaning and storing them properly in contact lens solution. Alternatively, you can look into wearing daily contact lenses, which offer a more hygienic wearing schedule and reduce the likelihood of eye irritation or infection.

Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace medical care or an in-person check-up. Please check with an eyecare professional before purchasing any products or remedies. For information on our article review process, please refer to our Editorial Policy.

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