Flying on an Airplane with Contact Lenses

Flying with contact lenses can be unpleasant to say the least. The dry air and high pressure of an airplane can cause dehydration and irritation, making your contacts feel tight and uncomfortable. But wearing contact lenses doesn’t automatically mean you have to settle for discomfort when you travel.  Consider these few tips to ensure a pleasant (and irritation-free) flight.

Bring Rewetting Drops

Pack a bottle of rewetting drops in your carry-on bag (keep in mind that it should be 3.4 ounces/100 mL or less, in accordance with TSA standards.) Make sure you can access it easily during the flight so you can relieve dry eyes when necessary.

Skip the In-Flight Nap

As most contact wearers know, sleeping with contacts in cuts off oxygen to your eyes and can damage your cornea. To prevent damage and discomfort, avoid falling asleep or remove your contacts beforehand. Keep in mind that if you’re planning to take out your contacts, your solution and case should be easily accessible in your carry-on. It can also be more difficult to remove contacts while on the plane (you know how tiny those bathroom mirrors are, not to mention turbulence) so you may want to consider doing it before boarding.

Opt for Your Glasses Instead 

Ultimately the best option to guarantee comfort and avoid damage is to wear your glasses instead, especially if your flight is more than a couple of hours. If you’re cringing at the idea of having to wear your glasses for an entire day of travel, wait to put them on until a few minutes before takeoff. Upon arrival, switch them out for a fresh pair of contacts.

Other Things to Keep in Mind When Flying with Contact Lenses

  • Always keep contacts and contact solution in your carry-on. The last thing you need is to lose your luggage and be unable to see clearly.
  • Drink a lot of water to keep your entire body (including your eyes) hydrated.
  • Bring an extra pair of contacts. If you have an extra pair of glasses bring them as well.
  • If you are going abroad, bring a prescription for your lenses. Some countries require them to buy replacement lenses.
  • Carry hand sanitizer so you can disinfect before handling your contacts. Just make sure to let the hand sanitizer dry fully before putting your finger in your eye.
  • Contact solution is deemed a medically necessary liquid by the TSA and can be over 100 mL, but you must declare it at security and there have been instances where passengers were not allowed to take it. To be on the safe side, you may want to consider purchasing a travel-sized solution or daily contact lenses. Note: Do not simply transfer contact solution from a larger bottle to a travel-sized one, as this can cause contamination.
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About The Author

A lover of travel, Caroline Housel has spent a lot of time studying and working abroad. Her favorite destinations include London, Amsterdam, and anywhere in France.

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