If you’re planning a trip this summer, one of the most important things you’ll need to do is pack the vision correction items you’ll need to see the world. As much as you may want to leave all your worries behind, it’s important to take extra good care of your eyes when you’re away. Whether you’re hitting the open road or flying the friendly skies, here’s how to plan ahead so you can make the most of your vacation.
What to Pack
If you’ll be wearing contact lenses on your vacation, don’t leave home without these essentials:
• Contact lenses. Are your contact lenses travel-friendly? 1 Day disposable lenses are easy to use when you travel because there’s no extra equipment required. You just put on a fresh pair of lenses every day and you’re set. But if you wear replacement lenses, be sure to bring more lenses than you usually need for the amount of time you’ll be away. Also, if you’re traveling by plane, pack your lenses in your carry-on luggage. If your checked luggage is lost, you may find yourself in a real pickle.
• Solution and a lens case. If you wear 1 Day disposable lenses, you won’t need these extras, but with other lenses, they are a must. Don’t plan to buy more solution while you’re away. No matter how common the brand is, you never know what you will—or won’t—find. It’s also a little risky to start using a new solution while you’re traveling since you may not be used to the preservatives and other components of a new product. Also, never transfer solution from the manufacturer's container into a smaller container, since this will affect sterility. Instead, look for the solution you normally use in travel-size packaging.
• Sunglasses. Sunglasses are important even if you wear contact lenses that provide UV protection. Wraparound styles, in particular, are great at shielding your eyes from the sun’s rays. But, keep in mind that not all sunglasses are created equal. Many block only UVB, so make sure your lenses block 99-100% of UVB and UVA rays. It’s also important to remember that you’re exposed to UV rays even on cloudy days.
• Eyeglasses. Even if you hate them and never wear them out in public, bring your glasses with you when you travel. You never know what might happen while you’re out exploring new horizons. You may encounter allergens and other airborne irritants that you’re not used to. If this becomes bothersome—or worse, if you experience an eye injury while you’re away—you’ll be glad to have your specs on hand.
• Goggles. If you plan on going swimming and don’t like getting water in your eyes, pack some goggles. More importantly, never swim while wearing contact lenses—even if you’re wearing goggles. Any kind of water, including pool, hot tub, and lake water, can cause an infection—which is not a fun way to end a vacation.
• Vision prescription. Are your contact lens and eyeglass prescriptions up to date? You probably won’t need them, but they’re good to have just in case you lose or damage a lens. To avoid the extra paperwork, take a quick picture of the Rx and keep it stored in your phone along with your eye doctor’s contact information.
If you’re traveling abroad, to a remote area, or anywhere where you don’t speak the language, a few additional precautions are in order. For example, if the water isn’t safe to drink, it’s not safe to rinse your hands with before inserting contact lenses. In these locations, use bottled water before handling your contacts. And no matter how clean the water source is—even if it’s bottled and distilled—never store your lenses in it. Use only contact lens solution for lens storage.
If your travels take you onto the open road and you’re going to be doing a lot of driving, adjust the air vents so that the AC doesn’t blow directly in your face. This can dry out your lenses and make staring at the road uncomfortable.
Contact lenses offer plenty of freedom from the hassles of glasses, but with freedom comes responsibility. Do yourself a favor and make healthy choices when you travel so that your memories of this summer are good ones.
Nothing in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.