eyes stinging in headwinds

Does anyone else have this problem? When wind blows steadily around my eyes, they start tearing, and soon after, stinging. Soon I’m blinking vigorously, and painfully half squinting as I make my way into the wind. This has been a serious hindrance when trying to do open crossings of even a short distance. I don’t believe this is sunscreen or sweat dripping into my orbits.

Are there any solutions out there? My standard issue sunglasses don’t seem to stop the problem. I can’t imagine wearing my ski/motocross goggles for this purpose, but they were designed for much the same purpose. Are those wraparound style sunshades any use?

I haven’t seen this subject when searching for it, so I thought I’d ask.


I use a pair of cheap wraparound cycling sunglasses. They work great for this and they’re reasonably vented so they don’t fog up unless I put them on my forehead, in which case a dunk in the water clears them up.

A very reasonable investment. Add the sun and cold temps to the wind, and my eyes just go to hell otherwise.

Just a flyer, but it may be that your eyes dry out faster than many and need some help. Have you tried using eye drops?

cycling glasses
I was going to suggest the same as slushpaddler - try cycling glasses They are made for winds, yet not quite as over the top at motocross goggles.

^another good tip
This happens to me so I use lubricating eyedrops, B&L, and they seem to help.


– Last Updated: Jun-24-11 12:08 PM EST –

If I don't wash my face frequently the oils / sweat / waxy matter can make my eyes sting badly if they tear up. I had an eye doctor tell me I had some kind of 'condition' that caused redness and irritation at the eyelids. Over-active sebaceous glands or some such. The fix is to keep the lids clean. When I wash my hair I use the shampoo to clean my eyelids a couple of times. The doctor said to do this as regular soap doesn't remove the waxy material. I swear it helps. While out camping I take those disposable / biodegradable wipes and clean the face & eyelids. Sounds like you have what I have. Try my fixes and see if they don't help.
(If you have what I have the eye drops won't help.)

Happens to me a lot
I wear a ball cap, and just pull the visor way down when there is a strong wind in my face.

When I am racing on a hot day I solved the sweat in my eyes problem by using a sweat band along with the ball cap.

jack L

Good Afternoon, Jack
I’m not at work today… except for painting some nasty window sills.

What I think our poster is describing is not sweat dripping in the eyes. It’s when the eyes tear up and it starts stinging way worse than sweat.

Anyone want to buy a house? I could be out paddling if it weren’t for this home ownership shit.

sounds like skiing without goggles
similar effect.

Hi Rex
I realize that, and that is why I suggested pulling the visor of a ball cap way down over the eyes.

Of course if it above 15MPH, and straight in your face, there is nothing short of goggles that will help.

Jack L

Hey Jack
Finally finished the painting. Home ownership feels better.

A couple weeks ago I had to skip my evening shower for some forgotten reason. The following morning was the regular bike ride (race). The sweat started dripping into my eyes with double the funk and double the sting. I hollered to my ‘friends’. “Stop at this stop sign and let me rinse out my eyes. Please. Please!” Two guys stopped and about five kept on truckin’. When them competitive juices start flowing ethics and fair play go right out the window. I cussed 'em pretty good.

Eye irritation.
The wind doesn’t bother me, but sunscreen is a major problem with me. I always apply sunscreen to my nose, lower face, and neck. If I put it on my forehead, it migrates into my eyes and feels like battery-acid. This occurs even without sweat. Even on cool days the eyes start reacting within an hour or so after I have applied it. I just protect the forehead with a hat.

If you use sunscreen…
That can do it. When racing in Florida racers are warned about using it. I’ve seen paddlers and boats have to be brought in as they couldn’t continue. Keep a bottle of water handy for the sweat and wear glasses for the wind.

dry eye syndrome
Had the same problems and also would occur when riding my scooter. Went to the eye doctor to have a skin tag (old age…) removed from my eyelid and see if anything could be done about the stinging and he scratchy/itchy eyes. Was told to relax my forehead…didn’t realize I was trying to open my eyes. My peripheral vision had deteriorated too. What was then determined was the eyelids were drooping considerably and the extra skin was holding sweat. Had the lid surgery (no, I don’t look any better) and most of the issues have been resolved. I was also told to scrub the lids from the nose outwards, twice a day. And to use moisturizing eye drops about 4 times daily, whether I feel I need to or not. Then he put in a couple of semi-permanent tear duct plugs in the lower lids and that worked great inasmuch as the tears don’t drain anymore down the throat. Hope my experience helps you in some way.

the only time I ever had that problem
was when I put sun tan lotion on my forehead

You don’t make that mistake twice

Dry eyes can come with
age and you may still need the wrap around sunglasses for your situation.

But when my eyes got really dry and drops didn’t help anymore, I went to my opthamologist, where upon he placed ductal plugs in the drain holes on the lower portion of my eyes. The problem has disappeared. And I always thought those were my tears came out but they’re actually drainage holes for excess eye moisture, while you’re still lucky to have too much.

With the first type he tried, one came out within two weeks. The second ones he put in have stayed. I’d not be without them. I don’t even know they’re there. I’ve had them for more than 10 years.

Check the internet for info on “ductal plugs”. My insurance covered their cost.

May you find a sucessful solution.

…I have the same problem on a motorcycle if I dont wear a full face helmet or a have a windshield in front to deflect the wind…My eyes tear up horribly.( and i wear prescription eyeglasses). some people just have more sensitive eyes. Best thing is the right set of wraparound sunglasses or goggles, such as swimmers where? Try using the style of sunglasses meant for motorcyclist’s.

Happens to me too
it must be the wind drying and the eyes compensating by manufacturing more tears…

Too much. Its not sweat or sunscreen. The temperature during the last two days topped at fifty and I did not have sunscreen.

I did have a twenty mile long headwind of twenty mph. A hat pulled low helped but the sunglasses I tried made the world go dark.

Over tearing happened some of the time…fortunately not all of the time.

How is your summer going?

The heat is on and we are all decked in fleece.

Thanks for the responses
Thank you everyone for your thoughtful answers. It was correctly deduced above that the problem is not sweat since I wear a large sweatband on my forehead. Nor is it sunscreen, since I don’t apply any above my eyes; the sweatband and Tilley take care of that.

Wraparound sunglasses seem the best answer to me and this is the model I have my eye(s) on:


The suggestion about oily skin on the eyelids and lashes may have some merit for me. I do have seborrheic dermatitis, so I’ll be trying some baby shampoo on my lids at home and using wipes on the trail.



now why wouldja do hat?
Check out tifosi optics:


Good performance at a quarter of the price of the oakleys, and you won’t regret that first scratch or worse, losing them in the lake as much. I wear the “pave” model; the vents make a huge difference cycling.