Travel Tips for Con­tact Lens Wear­ers

With an eye to safety, you can avoid va­ca­tion pit­falls

The Jewish Voice - - HEALTH - Edited by: JV Staff

Keep your eye on your con­tact lens reg­i­men if you're trav­el­ing this sum­mer. "Be­ing pre­pared when trav­el­ing is key to eye safety," said Dr. An­drew Pucker, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Alabama at Birm­ing­ham School of Op­tom­e­try.

"While the vast ma­jor­ity of con­tact lens wear­ers be­lieve they are com­pli­ant, up to 90 per­cent of pa­tients fail to ac­cu­rately com­plete at least one step of their care reg­i­men," Pucker noted.

Ei­ther they wear con­tact lenses for more days than rec­om­mended, keep them in overnight, ex­pose their lens to tap wa­ter or fail to fully fol­low the clean­ing in­struc­tions given to them by their op­tometrist, he said.

Tak­ing short­cuts in your eye care while trav­el­ing can ex­ac­er­bate bad habits or cre­ate new dan­gers.

Here, Pucker pro­vides tips about con­tact lens safety for va­ca­tion­ers:

Con­sider your des­ti­na­tion: "Not all travel des­ti­na­tions have the same re­sources as the United States," Pucker said. You could lose your lenses and have no way to re­place them, en­counter pol­lu­tion or not have ac­cess to clean wa­ter, he added.

If you're go­ing to an un­der­de­vel­oped coun­try, con­sider leav­ing your con­tacts home to avoid the risk of eye ir­ri­ta­tion or in­fec­tion, he said.

Also, re­mem­ber to pack travel-sized bot­tles of con­tact lens so­lu­tion and leak-proof con­tact lens cases.

It's also smart to pack ex­tra con­tact lenses and a pair of eye­glasses.

Re­mem­ber to re­move your con­tacts be­fore swim­ming. Oth­er­wise, you risk de­vel­op­ing an eye in­fec­tion. If you need your lenses to see while swim­ming, he sug­gested daily dis­pos­able lenses you can dis­card when you fin­ish your laps.

Pro­tect your eyes from the sun's ul­tra­vi­o­let rays by wear­ing po­lar­ized sun­glasses, UV-pro­tec­tion con­tact lenses if ap­pli­ca­ble and a large-brimmed hat.

"UV-pro­tect­ing con­tact lenses pro­tect only part of the eye," Pucker said. "Sun­glasses also pro­vide pro­tec­tion, though nei­ther con­tact lenses nor sun­glasses fully pro­tect the eyes from harm­ful light," he ex­plained.

He rec­om­mended a com­bi­na­tion of mea­sures, such as sun­glasses, con­tact lenses when needed for vi­sion cor­rec­tion, and hats. Chil­dren are more sus­cep­ti­ble to UV dam­age than adults, and should al­ways be pro­tected from the sun's harm­ful rays, he said.

"UV-pro­tect­ing con­tact lenses pro­tect only part of the eye," Pucker said. "Sun­glasses also pro­vide pro­tec­tion, though nei­ther con­tact lenses nor sun­glasses fully pro­tect the eyes from harm­ful light," he ex­plained.

Tak­ing short­cuts in your eye care while trav­el­ing can ex­ac­er­bate bad habits or cre­ate new dan­gers.

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