Contact lens wearers should be especially careful when flying.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Dry eyes
  • Discomfort
  • Red eyes
  • Infections

Problems Are Caused By

  • Low humidity
  • Low level of oxygen
  • Poor handling in strange surroundings
  • Solutions

Humidity and Dehydration

  • Low humidity in cabin
  • Alcohol – freely available and dehydrates the system
  • Other medications – e.g antihistamines – also dehydrate
  • Some modern lenses dehydrate faster


  • Lens dehydration reduces oxygen supply to the eye
  • Lower partial pressure of oxygen in the cabin
  • Falling asleep on the flight = accidental extended wear


  • Pathogens in recirculated air
  • Secondary to sinus or nasal problems
  • Reduced resistance to infection because of:
    • Impaired tears film
    • Fatigue
    • Less efficient solutions used while travelling

Advice To Lens Wearers

  • Avoid lenses while flying, especially long-haul flights
  • Consider daily disposables while travelling
  • Use comfort drops to lubricate eyes and lenses
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Take extra care with solutions while travelling:
    • Simpler systems must still be used as recommended
    • No short cuts
    • Avoid new or untried solutions
    • Overseas solutions with the same name may have different formulation