While you’re enjoying the sunny weather in Spain, it’s important to consider how the new climate can affect your eye health. In coastal areas, frequent exposure to sea breeze and sunlight can sometimes cause dry, irritated eyes. Dry eye syndrome is a common, mild eye condition that can be easily treated with the right steps.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at the causes of dry eyes, and how you can protect yourself against them.

How can sea and sun exposure cause dry eyes?

In warm, sunny climates like Spain, a number of environmental factors can trigger dry eye syndrome in many people who have not previously experienced problems in the UK.


Climate plays an important role in how comfortable your eyes feel. As the temperature in Spain is warmer, the watery part of your tears film may be more prone to evaporation than in the UK. Retreating indoors to an air-conditioned room, however, may not always be the best solution. Since air conditioning dries out the air, this change in climate may also cause your eyes to become dry.

Sunlight and UV rays

Although the sun is a welcome change from the drizzly UK, it also poses some increased risks to your eye health. Long days spent outside, on the beach or by the pool means your eyes are more frequently exposed to harmful UV rays. While we might typically associate excessive UV exposure with skin damage, our eyes are also at risk.

Sea breeze and saltwater

Particularly if you live on the coast, your eyes can become exposed to sea breezes that can dry out your cornea. The movement of dry air across the front surface of your eyes can increase the evaporation of tears, and can leave your eyes feeling sore, dry and often watery. Swimming can also be a trigger of dry eyes. The salt in seawater and chlorine from swimming pools can affect the complex structure of your tear film and have a drying effect on your eyes.

How to protect dry eyes from the sea and sun

Making a few simple changes to protect your eyes can keep them healthier and more hydrated for longer.

Protective sunglasses

Wearing a pair of high-quality, protective sunglasses is the first defence against sunlight. Primarily, sunglasses can protect your eyes from damaging UVA and UVB rays in sunlight and even glare from the sea. However, be sure to opt for those with UV400 lenses to ensure a high level of protection. What’s more, the physical barrier that sunglasses create can reduce the drying effect of sea breeze on your eyes.

Book an eye test

Although sunshine and outdoor living can trigger your symptoms, there may also be an underlying cause for dry eyes. It’s important to have regular eye tests every two years, or whenever you notice any pain or changes to your vision. This is a good way to detect an eye condition and keep your eye health in check.

Lubricating eye drops

Your optometrist can advise you on a range of eye drops to suit a variety of dry eye conditions.

At Specsavers Opticas, we offer a fully comprehensive experience for British expats, providing the same quality service you’d expect in the UK.


  1. Roberts, JE, Ultraviolet radiation as a risk factor for cataract and macular degeneration. Eye Contact Lens. 2011 Jul;37(4):246-9. doi: 10.1097/ICL.0b013e31821cbcc9. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21617534