SEEING THE SIGHTS WITH CONTACT LENSES
BY PHYLLIS L. RAKOW, COMT, NCLE-AC, Princeton, N.J.
Travelers who depend on their contact lenses wouldn't dream of leaving home without them, yet patients often are ill-prepared to handle on-the-road mishaps. Here are some contact lens rules of the road to share with patients.
► Keep spare lenses handy. Patients always should pack extra lenses when traveling. Keeping a copy of their prescription is also a good idea in case they need to replace a lost or damaged lens while on the road.
► Bring spectacles. Even patients who never wear their eyeglasses at home should stow a pair in their luggage. Nothing is worse than being stranded without a back-up option when an unforeseen corneal abrasion, infection or allergic reaction prevents patients from wearing their lenses.
► Be solution savvy. Patients should bring lens care products with them. First, they may not be able to find their usual lens care solutions, particularly if they're traveling out of the country. And second, some international products may contain preservatives and other chemicals that are irritating or not compatible with their lens material, resulting in discolored, misshapen lenses or red eyes.
► Beware dry air. Low airplane humidity levels are notorious for drying out contact lenses. If patients must wear their lenses during a flight, they should apply rewetting drops frequently and avoid napping.
► Keep it clean. Patients who know they won't have access to hot, soapy water should carry and use antiseptic hand wipes or premoistened towelettes before handling their lenses.
► Don't immerse in water. Patients should never wear their lenses while swimming or in hot tubs. Dangerous, sight-threatening microorganisms can lurk in these seemingly safe venues.
► Out with the old. One-day disposable lenses may be the ultimate travel convenience. Applying new, sterile lenses every day means patients don't have to worry about carrying solutions or storage cases -- an important consideration for backpackers and business travelers with limited luggage space.