Caring for your contact lenses whilst on holiday
Contact lenses are simple, safe and convenient to use – and that’s why the number of contact lenses wearers in the UK has more than doubled in the past 20 years – from 1.6 million in 1992 to 3.7 million in 20121.
“For holidaymakers requiring vision correction, contact lenses offer fantastic freedom when you want to be out and about enjoying a variety of indoor and outdoor activities,” says Siobhan Wren MBBS, FRCOphth, BCLA Council member (Medical Representative) and Consultant Ophthalmologist at Hillingdon and Mount Vernon NHS Foundation Trust, London.
“The latest contact lenses – called silicone hydrogels – provide excellent comfort and eye health by letting a higher percentage of oxygen through to the eye – and daily disposables are ideal for taking on holiday as no solutions or storage is required,” continues Siobhan. “Many contact lenses also offer additional UV protection when worn under sunglasses.
“It is important to always follow the advice of your registered contact lens practitioner, and to remember the basic hygiene rules when away from home and your regular routines,” says Siobhan. “This is particularly so when you are planning to take part in sea or pool swimming and watersports.
“It is extremely rare for someone to develop an eye infection as a result of their lenses coming into contact with water – and even less common for this to result in a loss of vision,” explains Siobhan, a Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists. “However, research shows that infections are more likely to occur if the recommended hygiene procedures are not followed2.”
The BCLA has the following guidance for contact lens wearers planning their holiday:
• Never wear contact lenses for swimming – or in hot tubs or whilst showering or participating in water sports – unless wearing tight-fitting goggles over the top.
• After swimming – or if lenses are removed and stored whilst swimming – contact lenses should be cleaned and disinfected in fresh solution before putting them back on the eyes.
• Before going on holiday, talk to your contact lens practitioner about being fitted with daily disposable lenses for use with goggles whilst swimming. Wearers of daily disposable contact lenses should always discard them immediately after swimming.
• Make sure you have enough solution to last your holiday, as your specific solution may not be available abroad.
• Ask your contact lens practitioner about travel packs of solution for added convenience.
• Never decant solutions into smaller bottles as you risk introducing bacteria and contaminating the solution.
• Never rinse your lenses in tap water, especially abroad, where the water may contain microorganisms. Always use saline to rinse your lenses.
• In case your lenses become uncomfortable or your luggage gets lost, always travel with your care kit in your hand luggage.
• Before you go, ask your optician about re-wetting drops as plane and hotel air conditioning may cause a degree of eye dryness.
• Always have a pair of spectacles to hand.
And remember….if in doubt, take them out.