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Eye Conditions and Travel Plans: What You Should Know

Many of us are planning our spring and summer vacations, and this could include flying to a faraway island or just across the country to visit relatives. In preparation, consider your vision care, what you should take with you, what might prevent you from getting on a plane, and what common eye issues you might encounter. Eye conditions and travel plans: what you should know.

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What Can Prevent You From Flying

Most eye conditions do not worsen during air travel, and there are only a few eye conditions that can affect flying.

Retina Repair Surgery

Retinal repair surgery can “ground” you. During the procedure, an air bubble of gas is injected to keep the repair in place. This is quite sensitive to pressure changes and could affect your healing and successful repair. Sometimes a silicone oil bubble is used, and there are no restrictions with that. Consult with Hecht Eye Institute about when you can safely fly after a retinal detachment surgery.

Corneal Transplant

This is another surgery that can keep you from air travel. During a corneal transplant the surgeon places an air bubble into the eye to help the graft adhere to the inner surface of the cornea. While this air bubble is in place, it is very dangerous to fly as the bubble can expand at higher altitudes. Depending on how much air is inserted, it may take between two days and two weeks for the bubble to dissipate. Without question, you should not fly for any reason until Hecht Eye Institute has confirmed that the air bubble is gone.

Most other surgeries do not restrict air travel, but it is always wise to check with Hecht Eye Institute before traveling if you have any questions or concerns.

Other Considerations When Traveling


You can always encounter eye issues while traveling. One of the most common is conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, which may be caused by bacteria, allergens, or a virus.

Symptoms include some the following:

  • Red or pink eye
  • Itching and irritation
  • Discharge
  • Burning
  • Swelling and not able to have contact lenses fit properly

If you have pain, seek medical care. If you have any type of eye issue, it is a good idea to have it checked out. If the symptoms do not improve or if they get worse, seek further healthcare. There may be a misdiagnosis of the cause.


Keratitis is another common eye inflammation while traveling. This can happen due to travelers being less conscientious about their routine like cleaning and changing contact lenses.

It might be a good idea to wear glasses instead of worrying about contact lens hygiene. One other tip: bring two pairs.

Lastly, don’t ignore changes in your vision while on vacation. Don’t wait until you get home to be checked out.

Contact Hecht Eye Institute at (310) 370-5648 if you have any questions or concerns about air travel and your vision.

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Schedule your appointment with Dr. Hecht and be on your way to better eye health!