Eye Health Considerations While on Vacation
I just got back from Taos, NM where I spent a week hiking, drawing and painting outside. It was gorgeous- sunny hot days, and cool, windy nights. In the past I have suffered from altitude sickness, so I was carefully prepared this time- lots of hydration (including adding electrolytes to my water) and good polarized sunglasses and artificial tears for my dry eyes. Cincinnati, Ohio is at about 700ft. elevation. Taos, NM, on the other hand is at about 7000ft. elevation. It’s an arid climate, a high plains desert. Towards the end of the week, the winds picked up at night. Add to that the fact that I spent hours drawing, painting, staring at my sketchbook, driving across country, and my eyes were tired and dry when I got back to Ohio. But I avoided any serious damage. My eyes fared well in Taos, and it wasn’t until I returned to Ohio’s rainy, tropical weather that my eyes became itchy & allergy irritated- I knew it was time to see Dr. Fiorenza!
Other than throwing a pair of sunnies in our bags, then heading off to the airport, we don’t often think about our eye health when it comes to vacation. Planning ahead is critical. As an Optician, I knew what I needed to do to protect my eye health. But I realized that some people aren’t aware of some simple techniques for keeping their eyes healthy while traveling.
Tips and Tricks for Vacation Eye Health:
If traveling for an extended time or in a foreign country, always keep a copy of your EYEGLASS & CONTACT LENS PRESCRIPTION with your travel documents in case of an emergency.
Pack your DRY EYE MEDICATIONS & other EYE RELATED MEDICATIONS along with copies of your prescriptions for those also!
Pack plenty of CONTACT LENS SOLUTION & REWETTING DROPS– don’t assume you will find your brand where you’re going, and NEVER use tap water to re-wet your lenses! Local bacteria can do a number on your eyes. If you’re in a country where you have to drink bottled water, assume that the local water is also not good for your eyes.
Pack a pair of BACK-UP PRESCRIPTION EYEGLASSES/ SUNGLASSES. This is critical if you develop and eye infection and cannot wear your contacts while traveling!
Do Not Use HAND SANITIZER and then handle your contacts. Think about it. You’d be surprised how often people make this painful mistake!
POLARIZED SUNGLASSES are a MUST when at the beach, but also at high altitudes and sunny climates and on snowy ski vacations. Don’t just pack them, wear them- sunburned corneas are no fun at all! Note: You’ll also look really cool if Kim or Halie helped style you with some great looking shades!
HYDRATE! If you travel anywhere, you are subject to very drying conditions- and if you’re prone to dry eye, it’s important to take in plenty of fluids. If you drink alcohol, be sure to match each drink with 8 oz of water, especially if you’ve spent the day in the sun!
ARTIFICIAL TEARS– Keep some with you at all times. They can really provide a great deal of relief after a long day of driving, golfing, swimming, hiking, etc. I keep some Blink® or Systane® in my bike pack which I have used many times on the bike trail.
Visit your OPTOMETRIST for the best medical plan for your eye health prior to your departure for a long trip, and be sure to follow up with her afterwards if you have a chronic condition, irritation or problems that arise while away- don’t delay treatment!
– Julie Bolton, LDO