Planning an overseas trip? One of the biggest problems with keratoconus on a long flight is the dehydration and irritation caused by the forced air, heat and digital screen use.
Using the strategies outlined below will help minimise the symptoms of dryness and irritation.
Best eye drops for air travel
- Keeping your eyes moist with a good quality, preservative-free eye drop such as Hylo-Forte, will make a big difference to your comfort. (These drops contain sodium hyaluronate, the lubricating fluid found naturally in joints such as your knee).
- A thicker formula, such as Theratears Liquid gel, can also work wonders. Apply a dose once every hour or two during the flight to compensate for the reduction in tears caused by the in-flight atmosphere.
- If you are an allergy sufferer, the flight can trigger an allergic response and an anti-histamine drop such as Zaditen can help with symptoms of watery, itchy, puffy eyes. Use one drop just prior to flying and repeat after twelve hours.
- Avoid the hot towels the air-stewards offer you and instead ask for a cool, moist towel. They may be able to keep one on ice for you and you can apply it to closed eyes every few hours. This will help control inflammation caused by dryness and allergy and help you to avoid eye rubbing.
Should you wear your contact lenses on a flight?
You may need to wear your contact lenses to get onto the plane, but once you’ve found your seat and stowed your luggage, think about removing your lenses for the flight.
- Glasses may be a better alternative – particularly if they are large and close-fitting, where they can shield your eyes from the drying effects of the air-conditioned cabin.
- If you can close your eyes and sleep or listen to music, even better. Make sure you pack your glasses, contact-lens case and cleaning and storing solutions.
- Ask your optometrist for a starter pack of your usual contact lens solution, as this will be much more compact for travel and avoid hassles with security about bringing fluids on board.
Note: Some people have reported better comfort wearing their contact lenses, especially if they are larger diameter lenses such as scleral or hybrid lenses. Go with what works for you.
Comfortable contact lens wear starts with good screen habits
You’re bored to tears. It’s only four hours into a long haul flight and you’ve had the meal (but wisely avoided the wine, which would dehydrate you further) and you’re now facing into that tedious stretch of the flight. How can you minimise the effects of air travel on your eyes?
- As much as possible, avoid electronic screens.
- Sleep if you can or at least close your eyes and forego the movies.
- Listen to music or audiobooks on your iPad.
- If you must read or watch a movie, your eyes will be more comfortable looking down at an iPad on your lap or tray than looking straight ahead at the in-flight entertainment system, so upload a few of your favourites beforehand.
- Staring at screens reduces your blink rate substantially, leading to dry, scratchy eyes. Consciously blinking will help, as will regular use of a good quality, preservative-free lubricating eye drop.
Hopefully, with the above strategies, your long haul flight can be more comfortable and less tedious than usual!