Eye care tips for March break travelers
Tuesday March 7, 2023
Toronto, ON – March 7, 2023 – Before packing their bags for a long-awaited getaway this March break, Canadians are reminded about ways to protect their vision, and to check with an ophthalmologist before hopping on an airplane, if they’ve recently undergone surgery or have recently started treatment for a serious eye condition, according to the Canadian Ophthalmological Society.
“With the change in cabin air pressure, eyes which have had recent surgery to repair a retinal detachment may be at risk of vision loss, and eyes undergoing treatment for diabetes or macular degeneration may have their condition deteriorate if treatments are missed,” says Dr. Phil Hooper, President of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. “Canadians need to be mindful of the potential risks to vision associated with travel – it’s always recommended to have your ophthalmologist clear you after undergoing any recent eye surgery or if taking eye medication before traveling, and ask if there are any activities you should limit or avoid.”
The most common eye complaints during air travel are dry eyes, itchy eyes, and watering eyes. Changes in cabin air pressure and temperature create a very dry environment that can really affect your eyes. To avoid this: stay hydrated, limit alcohol consumption, refrain from using contact lenses, and close the air vent to avoid the air getting blown directly onto your eyes. If dryness remains a problem, you can use lubricating eye drops or wear a mask when sleeping.
For those escaping the harsh winter for a sunny destination, it’s important to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays, as exposure can lead to the risk of developing cataracts, which result in hazy or blurry vision that worsens over time. According to a 2022 national survey, younger Canadians are not taking enough precaution in protecting their eyes from harmful UV rays, with only a third of respondents reporting that their children regularly wear sunglasses on a sunny day (33 per cent).
If you’ve undergone any recent eye surgery, here are some concerns and things to know:
- In all cases, it’s important to get clearance from your ophthalmologist before you travel. Once you do, it’s crucial to go to all your follow-up appointments.
- Keep the eye clean and avoid having the eye and surgical wound dry out on the flight.
- For glaucoma surgery, the cabin pressure change usually isn’t a concern, so in most cases you should be able to fly the next day, but it’s important to talk to your ophthalmologist to get approval for your particular case, and follow up as necessary.
- After a cataract surgery, you’ll need clearance from your ophthalmologist and let them know about your travel plans. Most of the time, this surgery doesn’t pose any significant problems for air travel.
- However, if you’ve had a corneal transplant or retinal surgery an air or gas bubble may have been placed in the eye as part of the surgery in which case, flying can be extremely dangerous. Always speak to your ophthalmologist about air travel.
A 2022 national survey conducted by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, in partnership with the Canadian Association of Optometrists, identified gaps in the vision health system to help guide future interventions and address eye health issues across the country, along with a critical need to create a National Vision Health Desk at the Public Health Agency of Canada.
To learn more about the four major eye diseases including the risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment, visit seethepossibilities.ca.
About Canadian Ophthalmological Society
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with the government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial partners and affiliates and other eye care professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policy in Canada in the area of eye and vision health. The COS is an accredited, award-winning provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is an affiliate of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). For more information, visit cos-sco.ca.
About the Survey
An online survey of 2003 Canadians aged 18+ was completed between June 10 and June 21, 2022, using Leger’s online panel. No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (i.e., a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, though, a probability sample of 2003 respondents would have a margin of error of ±2.2%, 19 times out of 20. Leger’s online panel has approximately 400,000 members nationally and has a retention rate of 90%.
For more information, please contact:
Bojana Duric, BlueSky Communications, [email protected]