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Home » What's New » How to Prevent Dry Eyes During Air Travel

How to Prevent Dry Eyes During Air Travel

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We all know why we need to wear sunglasses and sunscreen in the summer. Winter, however, can be deceiving. It's an illusion to assume that we are safe from sunburns during the colder season.

Snow acts as a powerful mirror for sunlight and magnifies the effects of UV rays which would otherwise be absorbed by the ground. As a result, the eyes are exposed to both the UV radiation bouncing back from the snowy carpet and the rays shining down directly from the sun.





If your family is skiing or snowboarding up in the mountains, you need to be even more careful! UV rays are more powerful at higher altitudes. Another important factor to remember is that ultraviolet radiation penetrates through clouds, so even if the sun is hidden behind them, it can still damage your eyes.

Prevent overexposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses that absorb at least 95% of ultraviolet radiation when you go outside, no matter what time of year it is. Even though you want to look great in your shades, the most important part of choosing sunglasses is making sure they provide adequate protection against UV. Make sure the lenses are 100% UV blocking by looking for an indication that they block all light up to 400 nanometers - UV400. The good news is you don't necessarily have to pay more for full coverage for your eyes. Dozens of reasonably priced options exist that still provide total ultraviolet protection.

Another important factor in selecting sun wear is the size of the lenses. You want to make sure your glasses cover as much of the area around your eyes as possible. The more coverage you have, the less harmful radiation will be able to penetrate. Lenses that wrap around the temples will also prevent UV waves from entering from the sides.

If you like to ski or frolic in the snowy hills, you should be aware that the sun's rays are stronger at higher elevations, so you need to be especially careful to keep your eyes shaded on the slopes. In addition to sunglasses, it's a good idea to put on a wide brimmed hat that covers your eyes.

Make a point to be knowledgeable about proper eye protection throughout the year. Don't forget to wear your sunglasses.

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Many travelers experience dry eyes after extended travel by air. 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 traveling to help prevent dry eye:

  1. Since dehydration makes dry eye symptoms worse, drink consistently before, during and after the flight. If you enjoy an on-flight alcoholic drink or caffeinated tea or coffee, be sure to drink extra fluids to rehydrate.
  2. 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 eye care professional before you fly as you might need a more effective lubricant to keep with you on the flight.
  3. Use an eye mask to protect your eyes while sleeping.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

There is no need to suffer from dry eyes when you travel; just drink plenty and treat your eyes well during the flight.