Flying Long-Distance With Contact Lenses

On top of the jet lag, swollen feet, and missing bags, after a long flight, the last thing you want is dry, irritated eyes.

But so is the life of a contact lens wearer. We’re so used to it, in fact, that it often takes our partners or friends to alert us to our red, puffy, bloodshot eyes before we realise, damn — we’ve still got our lenses in.

Normally you just take them out for a few hours and job’s a good ‘un. But when you’re on a 10-hour flight to Cancun and as soon as you arrive you’re heading straight to the beach bar, that’s just not gonna happen.

So, if you’re lucky enough to not get an infection, you spend the first few days of your holiday in the shade, rubbing your eyes, and holding back on the Margaritas so as to not make your poor peepers any drier.

To reduce the chances of this scenario from happening as much as humanly possible, keep reading for our do’s and don’ts of flying long-haul as a contact lens wearer.

Do’s and Don’ts of Flying With Contact lenses

If you’re on a plane and you’re wearing contact lenses, the first thing to ask yourself is, ‘Do I really need to be able to see?’ If the answer is no — i.e. if you’re not watching a film or trying to read the book of the guy in front of you — take them out.

With the average humidity sitting at as low as 20% on planes, our eyes tend to dry out pretty quickly — particularly on long-haul flights. And as contact lenses draw moisture from your eyes too, you definitely want to keep the length of time you wear them to a minimum. If you don’t start to experience irritated, itchy eyes first, with them being primarily made of water, they’ll soon dry up themselves and distort everything around you.

A good habit to get into is using lubricated drops (preferably made with natural ingredients), whenever you feel a bit of discomfort coming on. Just make sure to pack it in your hand luggage in a clear plastic bag, ready for the officers at security. In fact, if you rely solely on contact lenses for your vision, you’ll also want to pack a few extra pairs in your hand luggage too. There’s nothing worse than landing on the other side of the world to realise your bags won’t be there for a few days and you can’t buy your brand of contacts there.

Another thing to consider is that, if you’re flying with just hand luggage, you may not be able to take your litre-sized bottle of contact lens solution with you. For this and other reasons, it’s often easier to switch to daily disposable lenses while you’re away. The trouble here is that for many people their prescription is only available in a fortnightly or monthly lens. In this case, head to your local chemist and see if you can pick up a teeny bottle of travel size contact solution.

As a final but no less important note, when travelling with contact lenses, hygiene becomes even more critical than usual. We all know that planes aren’t the cleanest places around: the stale air that’s circulated continuously throughout the flight, the never-been-touched-by-a-cleaner hand rests, and the loos which quite easily qualify as “the germiest you’ll ever enter.”

And so, as well as keeping antibacterial sanitiser on hand, you’ll want to try avoid a mid-flight lens change. The best way to do this, as mentioned, is by only wearing your contacts when necessary (don’t fall asleep in them) and to avoid touching your eyes. Keep a compact mirror with you to help.

Prevention is The Best Medicine

Travelling well with contact lenses is all about prevention. And so, the best way to prevent having to deal with any their problems is, of course, by not needing to wear the darn things in the first place.

For most people, that immediately means one thing: glasses. But as anyone who’s transitioned from glasses to contact lenses knows too well, going back to glimmers is simply not an option. The result: you’re stuck with the dry eyes and fiddly little lenses.

But wait a minute. There’s also a third option that can rid you of the trouble of contact lenses and the pain of glasses: Laser Eye Surgery. Sure, you may think it’s an expensive step to take just to have a stress-free flight, but when you consider all of Laser Eye Surgery’s benefits and that its actually the most economical choice in the long term, suddenly it doesn’t seem such a silly idea.

Find out more about Laser Eye Surgery by speaking with one of our friendly clinic coordinators today. We don’t promise it’ll lead to completely stress-free flights — damn you RyanAir — but we’re positive it’ll help.