Tips During Holiday Travel

Why is it that my symptoms of dryness, burning, irritation and watering increase during the winter holidays? ….when traveling on a plane? …..when driving in my car in the winter? When I am visiting a different city, state, or country?

All of these questions have one thing in common. These environments are notorious for having lower than 50% humidity in the air. In fact, they often drop much lower than 50%, which is the required moisture level needed for optimal comfort. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to prevent these environments from causing flare-ups in your dry eye/tear film disease symptoms.  

  • Hydrate! Not drinking enough water is linked to increased dry eye symptoms.

  • Avoid drinking too many beverages that result in dehydration (ex. Alcohol, excessive caffeine) can lead to worsened dry eye.

  • Minimize airflow by re-directing vents in cars and planes.

  • Avoid having fans on in your home or at night while sleeping.

  • Utilize a humidifier to re-hydrate the dry air.

  • Use preservative-free, higher viscosity (thicker) artificial tears. These last longer on the eye and can provide quick relief during symptom flare-ups. Thicker tears can cause intermittent blurred vision, so they should not be used immediately before driving. My personal favorite artificial tear is Oasis, preservative-free tear. I find it provides a good balance of clarity and higher viscosity. It also comes in an FDA approved multi-dose bottle so that I don’t have to carry around multiple vials with me.

  • Consider avoiding or taking a break from the use of things that exacerbate dry eye symptoms. For example, if you wear contact lenses, take a break and wear your glasses.

  • Consider keeping your eyes closed and listening to audiobooks or music, instead of reading a physical book or watching a movie when in an airplane. In addition, if you are a make-up wearer, you can try to decrease your wear time.

  • Consider the use of sleep masks or moisture goggles to protect and keep the eyes hydrated while sleeping.

  • Consistently use a warm compress for 10 minutes 1-2x/day to keep the oil glands of the eyelids functioning.

  • Plan ahead. The hardest part of managing dry eye during travel or winter/holiday seasons is sticking to our treatment routines. Dry eye is chronic and requires consistent care to prevent symptom flare-ups. By planning ahead and ensuring you have everything you need to stick to your dry eye care routine, you can greatly minimize the effects of these dryer environments.\