With COVID-19 vaccines now available, updated travel guidelines, and many countries opening up their once-closed borders, people are feeling confident and optimistic about future opportunities for travel. Some may be preparing for a night away within driving distance, while others are feeling adventurous, planning a long-awaited excursion by plane.
Whether you’re traveling near or far, for work or for pleasure, worrying about your eye health shouldn’t get in the way. Eye conditions, including keratoconus, shouldn’t prevent you from living your life and enjoying what you love. So, book the ticket, mark your calendar, and pack your bags!
To help make packing a little easier, we’re providing some eye care travel tips to consider. Continue reading to learn more about caring for your eyes while traveling, including what to pack, how to prepare for an emergency situation, and what not to do while traveling.
Packing to Be Prepared
Remember how horrible it was the one time you left your sunglasses at home on your beach vacation? There’s nothing worse than forgetting to pack an essential item in your suitcase, only to realize it after you’ve already arrived at your final destination. Sure, a toothbrush or toothpaste may be easy to find at any local pharmacy or grocery store, but there are certain items related to your eye health that you don’t want to accidentally leave at home.
In order to avoid leaving behind important items, make a packing list that includes all of your eye care and keratoconus essentials. To make things quick and efficient, check off each item on your list as you’re packing, and then double-check to make sure everything is accounted for once you’re finished. Some things that should be included on the list are:
- Extra contacts (if you wear soft lenses!)
- Contact solution
- Spare glasses
- Glasses or contact case
- Eye drops
- Whatever else your eye care requires!
You should also pay attention to the number of items that you may need while you’re away, such as eye drops or contact lenses. If you’re going away for one night it shouldn’t really be an issue, but how much you should pack should be considered if you’re going away for multiple days. Before you head out the door, you might need to refill prescriptions or stock up on extras to ensure that you don’t run out while you’re away. And it’s always best to take more supplies than you’ll need just in case of unexpected circumstances. Try to take care of this at least a week or two before departing, so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
Also, remember to pack a hat and/or sunglasses! Proper sunglasses can protect your eyes from sun-related damage. Plus, you’ll look cool doing it! If possible, look for a pair of shades that offer 100% UV absorption, as they’re the best optical quality. You may also want to look for the Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Recommendation to make sure you are sufficiently protected
If you have global travel plans it’s especially important to be adequately prepared, since you may have trouble finding your normal products abroad. It can be even more confusing if you’re in another country and you don’t speak your native language. You may have a hard time understanding the product labeling. Before or during your trip, you can also ask members of the KC Facebook Community group for product recommendations or advice for international travel.
What Not to Do While Traveling
When you’re on the road or on vacation, it’s common to have a completely different schedule than normal. During travel itself, you may be stuck in the car on a long drive or taking an overnight flight that messes with your daily routine. Once at your destination, your days and evenings might be filled with eating out, sightseeing, or even meetings, so you may consider jumping right into bed at the end of the day or sneaking in a midday nap.
Although this may be tempting, it’s important to follow your normal eye care and maintenance routine, even while you’re on the go or away. With that said, here are some things to NOT do while traveling.
Don’t Sleep With Contact Lenses in
It’s been a long day and you’re considering hopping into bed without following your bedtime routine, or maybe you want to take a nap by the pool. Unless you have extended-wear lenses or have been instructed by a doctor, you should never sleep while wearing contacts. When your eyes are closed, your tears don’t bring as much oxygen to your eyes compared to when they are open. Oxygen and hydration are necessary in order to ward off bacterial and microbial invasion in your eyes. Sleeping in your lenses can also cause infections from viruses, bacteria, amoebae, or fungi.
In order to prevent yourself from dozing off in your contacts, try setting a nightly alarm on your phone to serve as a reminder that it’s time to take your contacts out before bedtime. Another option is to leave a post-it note on your bathroom mirror to make sure you won’t forget.
While you’re at it, don’t wear your contact lenses on the plane, either! The dry air can cause your lenses to dry out, making it uncomfortable to wear them. For more information about contact lenses, check out our blog on some contact lens do’s and don’ts.
Don’t Ignore or Skip Medications
You might be running around all day and all night, but that’s not an excuse to forget to use your daily eye drops for dry eye, for example. Nothing is more important than keeping up with your eye care routine and schedule. If you do use daily medications, try leaving them out on your bathroom counter as a reminder, or, if necessary, set an alarm on your phone to serve as a secondary reminder. Your eyes will thank you for it!
Don’t Ignore Signs of an Infection or Irritation
Not taking proper care of your contact lenses may lead to an infection. It’s important not to ignore any signs of an infection or irritation, especially when you’re on vacation! If you start to experience pain, changes to your vision, redness, blurry vision, discharge, unusually watery eyes, or light sensitivity, you may require medical attention. Contact an eye doctor if you experience any of these symptoms and don’t wait until you get home.
What to Do in an Eye-Related Emergency
While you’re away if you notice any changes to your eyes, vision, or signs of an infection, call your doctor to check in. If you’re traveling internationally and you can’t get in touch with your doctor, make sure to visit a local hospital or physician’s office to get things checked out. To take things one step further, experts say you should check in with your insurance provider to see if you are covered when traveling abroad. If not, you should consider purchasing travel medical insurance so you aren’t paying out of pocket.
Don’t Worry, Be Prepared!
By taking a little extra time to properly prepare for your travel, you should be able to enjoy your upcoming adventure! If you do have concerns, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor, or visit a local physician or emergency room if you have an eye-related emergency while you’re away.
And remember to pack those sunglasses!
For more information on keratoconus or available treatment options for progressive keratoconus, such as iLink® FDA-approved cross-linking, visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.