Five travel tips for contact lens wearers from an expert optometrist

Travelling when you wear contact lenses can add an extra level of complication – what do you need to remember to bring and do?

From checking what you can carry onto planes in your hand luggage to ensuring you’re ready for any activities you’ve got planned, contact lens wearers need to invest a little more thought into holiday planning.

To help you make sure you’ve covered everything and can enjoy your holiday knowing your vision and eye health are protected, Brendan O’Brien, leading optometrist at Vision Direct and member of the General Optical Council, shares these five travel tips for contact lens wearers.

1) Buy from reputable brands

First, make sure that you always buy your lenses from a reputable brand at trusted retailers, so you can trust that you’re using quality products that protect your eye health. 

Also ensure that you’re prepared and equipped to use contact lenses, and the activities you’ll be doing while you’re wearing them. If you’re in any doubt whether you can wear contact lenses for any planned holiday activities, check with your optician such as Contact lenses plus before you leave.

2) Check how much you are allowed to bring in hand luggage

It may seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised at how unprepared we can be when we travel – especially when it comes to airport rules and regulations which can change without us realising.

For example, it’s easy to overlook important aspects of air travel regulations such as rules around the size of liquids you can take in your hand luggage. Liquid restrictions for hand baggage are just 100ml.

And don’t assume that because you have less than 100ml in a larger bottle you’ll be fine to take your contact lens liquids on board with you. If the bottle says 500ml, it will be taken away from you, even if there’s clearly less inside.

3) Check what you need to bring

Depending on where you’re traveling to, it may not be easy to buy contact lens supplies if you need them, so make sure you pack for every eventuality.

This means preparing for the possibility of dry eyes (especially if you’re flying or visiting somewhere hot). So ensure you take plenty of eye solution or eye drops with you.

And pack back-up lenses too, just in case something happens. You may even decide to switch to hassle-free daily contact lenses while you’re travelling. Not only can you simply throw them away when you’re finished each day, but you don’t need to remember to pack contact lens solution.

A pair of glasses are handy too, in case for any reason you can’t wear your lenses. If you’re flying, you may want to wear glasses for comfort, particularly if you’re flying long haul and will need to sleep at some point.

4) Protect your eyes when you’re swimming

If you plan to swim on holiday and will need to wear your contact lenses, make sure you invest in a good pair of goggles.

These will help you to protect your lenses and eye health while you are in the water, and ensure that your eyes don’t dry out and feel uncomfortable while you are swimming. 

5) Protect your eyes from sunlight

Your eyes can sometimes become more sensitive to sunlight when you are wearing contact lenses. So it’s extra important to ensure you’re wearing sunglasses with UV protection, and avoid any long term damage and eye sensitivity caused by sunlight. 

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel