Travel and your eyes

Length: 3 minutes read
Date added: 03/04/24
Author: Optical Team


Travel and your eyes – what do you need to know?
Travelling brings excitement, exploration, and enjoyment. You can get more out of your holiday by taking care of your eyes.  Visit your optometrist for an eye examination before you go.


Over-exposure to sunlight may increase the risk of developing cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, eye growths, cancers (including skin cancers involving the eyelids and delicate tissues around the eye), as well as wrinkling and premature ageing.

  • Be aware that the colour and darkness of the lens are not indicators of the degree of protection
  • Wear sunglasses not only at the beach but on the ski slopes and water too. UV rays reflect off snow and water with the power to sunburn the eyes
  • Sunglasses are for work and business trips, not just for holidays.
  • Remember that on cloudy days the sun’s rays can pass through clouds and still cause damage
  • Pay extra attention to your eye protection when the sun is highest in the sky – between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Consider transition lenses that block 100 percent of UV rays when you are at higher altitudes
  • Never look directly at the sun
  • Wear eye protection all year and in your everyday life
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat.


Did you know that correctly-timed bright light exposure can help combat jet lag? Or that bright light at the wrong time of day can make jet lag worse, increasing the time it takes for your body to adjust to a new time zone?
Check out the Fleet St. Clinic’s Jet Lag Calculator here.


It is easy for items to go missing, or get delayed or damaged or while travelling. Be prepared with:

  • Extra pairs of glasses and sunglasses, and enough contact lens replacements and solutions
  • Bring a safety cord or “croakies” to protect against losing your glasses, on any high speed outdoor activities or water sports
  • Bring your prescription with you on your vacation as a fallback, to prevent having to travel sightless in a crisis
  • if you take prescription eye drops or need eye drops for allergies, glaucoma or dry eye, be sure to bring them with you, plus “extras”!


It can be much harder to find good treatment when you are away from home, so take extra care to prevent problems:

  • Remember to remove all traces of eye makeup to avoid eye soreness or infection in the morning.
  • Have makeup remover and eye drops handy.
  • Always use contact lens solution to clean your contacts and only store them in their case.
  • Water is not an alternative; water is not sterile in some countries and potentially contain bacteria leading to serious eye infections.
  • Carry extra solution and contact lens case in your hand luggage.


These conditions, along with dry, dusty, windy or barren environments, drain moisture from your eyes leaving them dry, red, scratchy or gritty.

To avoid eye irritation:

  • Use artificial tears or other over-the-counter remedies. Avoid artificial tears with preservatives because overuse can cause blood vessels to constrict
  • In windy, dry or hot weather, wear your glasses to help protect your eyes from dust, dry air and dirty wind
  • When flying, remove your contact lenses if you are going to sleep, and on flights longer than three to four hours
  • Keep your eyes properly hydrated by drinking enough water (our Travel Doctors recommend at least one cup of water for every hour in the air).


Eye emergencies can be distressing, and even more so when you are far from home and not sure where to seek help.

If you experience worrying symptoms such as loss of vision and eye pain, seek advice right away – even if this inconvenient for your travel arrangements. There are many problems that, if not treated in a timely or appropriate manner, can lead to permanent visual impairment.

Don’t wait until you return home: see an eye care professional wherever you are, for immediate advice.


Do you know about our partner medical clinic – Fleet St Clinic – for travel vaccines, medical supplies and more?


Regular eye care is important. To make the most of your travels, see your optician regularly, to safeguard your eyes prior to travel.

For enquiries and appointments, call Whitby & Co. Optician on +44 20 7353 4455.  Alternatively, you can book an appointment online.


Are you overdue an eye examination? Book today.

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Visit our partner clinic, Fleet St. Clinic for private GP care, specialist travel clinic, workplace health care, and more.