As the holidays approach, you may be planning to travel to see family and friends, or maybe just to take a much-needed vacation. Whether you are preparing for a short road trip or an intercontinental flight, you should keep your eyes in mind. To make it easy for you, we have created a guide for keeping your eyes happy and healthy while you travel, including some just in case tips for what to do if something goes wrong.
Bring extras of everything. If you wear glasses, bring a spare pair on every trip. If you wear contacts, you should bring extra lenses. Part of the fun of traveling is seeing new sights, and it would be a shame if you had to miss out because your glasses or contacts were lost or damaged. Additionally, if you do lose your contacts or glasses, your impaired vision can put you at risk as you wander an unfamiliar place, especially if you plan on driving. When flying, you should try to keep your glasses, contacts, and everything that goes with them in your carry-on bag (you may need to get travel-sized bottles of contact solution to get through airport security). That way if your luggage gets lost, you will still have the essentials you need to be able to see.
If you are flying to your travel destination, prepare for experiencing dry eye symptoms on the airplane. If you plan on sleeping for several hours during your flight, you should take out your contacts and put them in a case with solution (not in a cup that the flight attendant might throw away while you sleep) or bring over-the-counter eye drops to lubricate your eyes.
Never store your contacts in water! Water is not sterile. In some countries, it may even have bacteria that can cause serious eye infections. You should always travel with your contact lens case and solution in your carry-on bag. Ideally, you should bring two travel sized bottles of solution so that if one spills, you have a backup.
Whether you are laying out at the beach or skiing in the mountains, you should be taking steps to protect your eyes from damaging ultraviolet rays. You should wear sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation and that screen 75 to 90 percent of visible light. This information should be on the label. Remember that the color and darkness of the lens are not indicators of the degree of protection. You should be especially careful when you are outside between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and when you are at higher altitudes.
It may be tempting to put off minor eye problems you encounter while traveling, but don’t do it. The immediate treatment of minor eye issues is what keeps them minor. For example, if you get a small cut in your eye, don’t wait until it becomes infected to seek treatment. Otherwise what might have been a one to two-day healing process will take much longer and you may even be left with permanent loss of vision or scarring. If you develop an eye problem for which you would normally go to the ophthalmologist, you can go to EyeSmart’s Find an Eye M.D., which has an international list of all the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s members and allows you to search by location.
The most tempting eye issues to ignore are often those painless changes in vision, including floaters, flashes, and blurred vision. However, just because your condition isn’t painful doesn’t mean it isn’t serious. So once again, do not put off going to the ophthalmologist until you get home. Changes in vision can be an indicator of other health problems such as a stroke or uncontrolled diabetes.
If you take prescription eye drops for glaucoma, allergies, or dry eye syndrome, be sure to bring more than you need. Do not assume that a prescription from the United States can be filled in another country or that the same drops are even available in the country you are traveling to. Get prescriptions filled before you leave and bring extras.
We hope that you enjoy your travels and that this guide makes you feel prepared to take care of your eyes wherever you go.
If you would rather not deal with contact lenses or glasses while you travel, call us at 678-681-9834 to schedule a free LASIK consultation today.