How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy on a Long-Haul Flight

How to Avoid Long-Term Damage to Your Eyes on a Long-Haul Flight

With reports from ABTA that long haul travel is booming this year, optometrists are warning of the tolls these long flights can take on your eyes.

Extended periods of being in a dry atmosphere, staring at small electronic screens, constant air conditioning and a lack of sleep, can cause eye problems which in the short term could ruin a holiday and have a long term impact on sight.

Stephen Hannan, Clinical Services Director at Optical Express, said: “Whilst a holiday during the winter period can be beneficial to our overall health and wellbeing, it is always good to be vigilant when it comes to looking after your eye health whilst travelling.

“Not only can air-conditioned planes make your eyes feeling irritated, which could last the entirety of your holiday, it can also lead to complications such as red eyes, dry eyes and blurred vision. We’ve come up with a series of tips that aim to help travellers manage any potential damage to their eyes whilst flying, and we highly recommend taking these precautions.”

Optical Express’ Top Tips to keeping your eyes healthy on a long haul flight, from Stephen Hannan, Clinical Services Director at Optical Express:

Wear glasses rather than contact lenses to avoid a higher risk of eye infection

Wear glasses rather than contact lenses to avoid a higher risk of eye infection
“Contact lenses can create a breeding ground for bacteria, especially when less oxygen is getting to the surface of the eye. Firstly, contact lens wearers are at higher risk of corneal infections by touching the lens or eye without washing their hands.

“Secondly, as long haul flights often operate through the night, contact lens wearers might be tempted to wear them while sleeping. However, this can dry the lens out, which can cause complications, including sight-threatening infections.”

Take regular breaks from the in-flight entertainment
“Everyone knows the dangers of sitting for too long on a long haul flight, but what about the dangers of staring at a screen for too long? There are a number of eye health issues associated with using digital screens.

“Your blink rate, which is typically about 15-20 times per minute, can reduce by up to half when you are closely focussing on a screen, which can cause dry eye and blurred vision..”

Use soothing and hydrating eye drops
“Keep eyes hydrated with eye drops throughout your journey. The lack of humidity in an aeroplane cabin means that the eyes are less lubricated, which can lead to red, irritated and bloodshot eyes. In some cases, vision could be found to be variable for a short period of time.”

Don’t drink alcohol
“Sugary, alcoholic drinks can seriously affect your vision and lead to long term eye conditions. While this won’t happen within the duration of a flight, drinking too much long term runs the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, where high blood sugar levels cause the blood vessels at the back of the eyes to become damaged.

“Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can cause the coloured part of the eye known as the iris to constrict and dilate at much slower speeds resulting in temporarily blurred vision.

Get some sleep!
“It may seem obvious, but a simple way to keep your eyes healthy during a flight is to keep them closed. Not only will the eyelids protect the cornea from the harsh air-conditioning, but a bit of shut-eye will also relieve tiredness and the complications that come with it.”

Read more articles on healthy living in our dedicated section here.

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