Many travelers experience dry eyes after extended travel by air. The average humidity in an airplane is about 4% (think Phoenix in late June)! The dry environment of a temperature- and pressure-controlled air plane cabin can take its toll on your eyes.
The good news is there are a number of steps you can take to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms associated with travelers’ dry eye. Here are some tips to keep in mind when travelling to help prevent dry eye:
- Since dehydration makes dry eye symptoms worse, drink consistently before, during and after the flight (then be ready to stretch your legs while waiting for the one airplane restroom!). If you enjoy an on-flight alcoholic drink or caffeinated tea or coffee, be sure to drink extra fluids to rehydrate.
- Make sure to pack a bottle of artificial tears to apply as needed. If you suffer from dry eyes on a regular basis, consult with your optometrist, Dr. Stephen Cohen, before you fly as you might need a more effective lubricant to keep with you on the flight.
- Use an eye mask to protect your eyes while sleeping.
- If you wear contact lenses, switch to a pair of glasses for the duration of the flight to avoid additional dryness that often accompanies contact lens use.
- Turn off the air conditioning vent above your seat to prevent dry air from blowing directly into your face.
Some airlines add moisture to the cabin atmosphere to reduce the dryness on the flight. You may want to consider seeking out airlines that do this before booking your tickets.
Don’t forget to check if your airline has any regulations regarding the types of liquids you are allowed to carry with you on the flight so you will be able to pack your eye drops with you in your hand baggage. That way, you will be able to lubricate your eyes during the flight, and if your baggage gets lost or does not arrive when you do at your destination, you will be able to give your eyes the relief they need upon arrival, while dealing with the “disappearing baggage” aggravation.
There is no need to suffer from dry eyes when you travel; just drink plenty and treat your eyes well during the flight.