If you are one of millions who have Dry Eye or Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), you have to be prepared when traveling as there are many factors that can aggravate your dry eye symptoms. When traveling by car for long periods of time, vehicle air conditioning can take its toll. In an airplane, the pressure controlled environment and lack of moisture in such a closed area can cause flare-ups over time that will result in blurry vision or burning, itchy, watery and irritated eyes. Even staying in hotels, where the air is often limited in moisture, can bring on distress for dry eye and MGD sufferers. Your travel destination itself can also contribute to discomfort as dry climates or bright environments can trigger dry eye symptoms.
Remember: your eyes need at lease 50% moisture content in the air for optimal comfort. On an airplane, humidity levels often are below 20% – that’s lower than the Sahara Desert. In the winter and in other dry environments, humidity levels can drop below 10%. Fortunately, there are many preventative measures you can take when you travel so you can combat low humidity environments before the symptoms of Dry Eye get the best of you. Below are some tips for being prepared when traveling:
Drink Plenty Of Water
You have heard many times that drinking lots of water is an important part of everyday health, but it is essential when traveling with Dry Eye. Dehydration can accelerate your dry eye symptoms so drink plenty of fluids before, during and after travel.
Artificial Tears/Eye Drops
Due to the low humidity often experienced inside airplanes, bringing eye drops can help you to keep your eyes moist during a time when tear evaporation can significantly increase. These will also help if traveling to dryer climates or spending time in hotels or offices where there may be low air circulation.
Take a Break From Contact Lens Wear
If you wear contacts, consider using glasses while traveling as contact lens require moisture. Dry air on an airplane, in hotels or even for long periods in a car can aggravate symptoms.
Use a Humidifier
There are many options for travel size humidifiers you can bring on the road with you. Many hotels also provide humidifiers for your room upon request. Check with the hotel before you leave or remember to ask when you check in.
Sleep Masks & Moisture Goggles
Wearing a sleep mask or moisture goggles doesn’t make a great fashion statement on an airplane, but they both provide a means to protect your eyes and to retain moisture while sleeping. Your eyes may thank you after a long flight or even a few nights away in a hotel room.
Manage Those Air Vents
On a plane or in a car, the direct air from air conditioning vents can dry out your eyes pretty fast. Rather than depriving yourself of the cool comforts of the airflow, consider turning the vents away from any direct contact with your eyes. You may even want to turn the air or heat on low or even off when sleeping at night in your hotel.
Shades and A Hat
Don’t forget the importance of sunglasses as protective eyewear and a hat that can shield you from irritation arising from light. Sunlight can no doubt play a role in waking up those dry eye symptoms so a nice pair of shades, wrap around style for extra sensitive eyes, and a baseball cap can make a world of difference.
Keep in mind that many of the same factors that can contribute to aggravating Dry Eye symptoms during travel are also the same in our day-to-day lives. Even if you do not have Dry Eye, the affects of low humidity environments can contribute to ocular discomfort. Preparing ahead of time to prevent or relieve dry eye symptoms while traveling will keep your eyes comfortable and focused on enjoying your trip.
If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms, take the proper steps to minimize dry eye irritation, especially when traveling. If your symptoms are severe, address them promptly as early detection is essential. If you have dry eye, it is highly likely that the root cause is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, commonly referred to as MGD. This is a blockage of oil producing glands under the eyelids and, in most cases, is treatable with LipiFlow. LipiFlow is a FDA cleared, 12 minute non-invasive treatment for MGD with proven long-term results. Find out more information.