The holidays are a time for peace and joy, when all seems right with the world. As you prepare to gather with family and friends to celebrate relationships, life and of course, the season, it can be easy to let things slide. But when you wear contact lenses, letting things slide could lead to bigger problems—and a not so happy holiday.
There are more than 45 million people wearing contact lenses in the U.S. alone, and between 40%-90% admit to not taking proper care of their contacts, and by default, their eyes. This can lead to conditions such as Keratitis, which is a painful infection in the eye from using your contact lenses incorrectly. One in 500 contact lens wearers go blind every year from eye infection complications.
Now when it comes to traveling, simplicity is often the name of the game. From packing light to streamlining your daily routine, it can be easy to overlook proper care for contact lenses and your eyes. Sure, it can it be annoying to travel with them. But without proper care, it can also be dangerous for your eyes.
If you’re packing your contact lenses as you head out of town on your holiday travels, here are a few practical tips to keep your eyes safe, wherever you go.
Keep contact lenses properly hydrated
When flying on a plane, your eyes are particularly subject to dryness. In fact, aircraft humidity often hangs somewhere around 20%, which is about 50% less than a typical building. With your contact lenses already minimizing oxygen to the eyes, and contributing to dryness on top of that, avoid wearing them on the plane if possible. But if you can’t, be sure to bring eye drops along to keep them hydrated and happy.
Maintain proper hygiene for contact lenses
You forgot your wash solution at home. You don’t have a store nearby. It probably seems like a fine idea to just wash them or soak them in water. Just this once, you think. But tap water contains bacteria, chemicals and parasites that could enter your eye through your contact lenses. Maintain proper hygiene as always—and don’t forget not wash your hands before handling. That hotel room may not be as clean as it appears.
Always wear your contact lenses as recommended
Even before travel comes into the picture, 29.8% of adolescents, 33.3% of young adults, and 32.9% of adults admit to sleeping with their contact lenses in. While vacations and travels throw us out of our daily routines, it’s vital to pay attention to wearing instructions for your contacts. Six of 7 contact lens users have said they are guilty of not using their contacts responsibly, as they know they should.
Ditch the contact lenses altogether
If you don’t mind wearing glasses, you won’t have to take the same precautions while traveling—aside from making sure you don’t sit on them or break them. If you’ve got a jam-packed travel schedule for the holidays, and into the summer (it’s coming back, people), you might want to consider corrective procedures, such as LASIK. Between streamlining your daily life, simplifying your holiday travels and minimizing the risk of eye infections and potential blindness from contact lenses, you can have a happy holiday all around.
Don’t swim with contact lenses
When you’re trekking through paradise to some Hawaiian waterfall, who wants to think about their contact lenses. You should. Because whether in the swimming pool or in a tropical oasis, parasites abound. Even if you don’t dunk your head, water can still get in and parasites get trapped behind the lenses. If you happen to wear them, toss them immediately after (pack in pack out, if on a trail), or clean them with your contact lens solution.
Shield your eyes with sunglasses
Even if your contact lenses are UV-protecting, it’s vital to protect the entire eye—not just the portion that the lenses cover. Wear sunglasses or hats when outdoors to shield and protect your eyes from UV damage.
Holiday travels should be a time for reconnecting with loved ones, and enjoying your life. Don’t let small but important things—like taking care of your contact lenses—slide by. If your vision could talk, it would thank you for it.