Contact Lenses and Flying

We recommend that contact lenses are not worn on flights because of the dry atmosphere. Make sure you pack your spectacles as well as an adequate supply of contact lenses and cleansing solution. We can provide you with a letter confirming that you are a contact lens wearer and need to carry lenses and solutions in your hand luggage.

If you are unable to remove them and your contact lenses become dry and sticky then instil a few drops of preservative free lubricants and WAIT for them to mobilise so that they can be removed safely. This can take several minutes and may require several drops.

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