Temperatures are warming up across the country and before you know it, it’ll be time for summer vacation again. As soon as school lets out for the summer, Indians are expected to start heading to the airports in record numbers; but unless you plan ahead especially being health wise, you’re likely to run into some unexpected and unpleasant surprises.

How airplane travel can affect your EYES and Tips on avoiding problems

The dry air in the cabins of modern jets causes rapid evaporation of tears from the eyes surface. Without sufficient moisture the cornea, which is the transparent “watchglass” that lies over the iris (coloured part of the eye) can be deprived of oxygen and cause your eyes to become irritated.

The first symptoms may be redness and a scratchy feeling in the eyes. Vision can get blurred and, in particularly sensitive individuals, painful microscopic blisters can form on the corneal surface.
Reading on the plane adds to the problem because you tend to blink less frequently when you read, leading to more evaporation of moisture from the eyes.

Wearing your contact lenses during a long flight can result in symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain. This problem can occur with all types of contact lenses: hard, soft, gas permeable, or extended-wear.
When contact lenses are worn, oxygen reaches the cornea either through the lenses or dissolved in tears that flow under the lenses. The dry air in the cabin also evaporates the water from the contact lenses

If you are a contact lens wearer, you need to be aware of how airplane travel can affect your eyes.

 How can you avoid problems?

It is a good idea to put moisture-containing eye drops in your eyes during a flight as often as you feel they are necessary.

The drops may be artificial tears or the lens lubricant or saline solution that you use. (Airline personnel who wear contacts and have discomfort should always use these drops routinely.)

If that does not help, or if you have previously had severe problems after long flights, it may be wiser to remove the contacts and wear your eyeglasses when flying.


  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages. A glass of water every hour is good.
  • Put a pillow behind the small of your back to avoid backaches.
  • Take an occasional stroll around the cabin. This is especially for those who are overweight or have high-risk conditions such as high blood pressure. By moving around you will decrease the risk of deep venous thrombosis, which in simple terms is blood clotting in the lower limbs. because of  …
  • Bring a sweater or jacket – airplane cabins are usually cool.
  • Use lip-balm, moisturiser and eye-drops/contact lens lubricant to combat the effects of cabin dryness.
  • The relatively low air pressure in your aircraft can cause discomfort. If your ears bother you during takeoff and landing, try yawning, chewing gum or doing this: pinch your nostrils shut, inhale, close your mouth and try gently to blow your nose. Children should be encouraged to drink or suck on sweets.
  • If you have a cold, the dry air will make your sinuses feel worse. If you are taking medications, carry them with you in the cabin.  See your physician to rule out infection. Also, your fellow passengers will appreciate it because everyone is more susceptible to catching a cold in dry air than in moist due to the effect.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance is one of the best investments you can make when planning a vacation. Let’s face it; no one likes to spend money on insurance. But the consequences of not having travel insurance can be so significant as to warrant the inclusion of a good policy in every vacation you take.


In spite of your zealous efforts of doing and packing everything, having done your hair, nails and just about everything before taking off on your vacation, you still look like “black-eyed Susie” with deep black rings under your eyes and puffy lids!!  Blame it on ‘jet lag’!  Your regular internal clock is rather topsy-turvy at the moment.

Disrupted eating pattern, bowel pattern and conversational pattern. Everything is a little chaotic for a while. You do not know what day it is or what time it is back home.

Why do we get jet lag?
Our internal little 24-hr clock just loses its grip on place and pace if we alter it by more than a few hours by passing through different time zones.

  • Solution?
    Don’t drink too much alcohol, as it tends to dehydrate your body. The sensible thing to do is to stick to plain water, lots of it!
  • Do stretching exercises in your seat to avoid cramped muscles.
    Walk around the cabin during your flight, if possible.
    Wear comfortable clothes and comfortable shoes. Be well rested before you leave.
    Make sure your pre-flight diet contains plenty of starch, carbohydrates and greens.
    Try to stay awake during meal and beverage service, and sleep only when the cabin is darkened.
    Arrange in-flight meals to reflect the time-of-day at your destination.
    Set your watch to the time of your destination before you board.
  • Set your watch to your destination time as you take off. Then start programming your body to it. On a night flight, take your shoes off, decline both the meal and the movie and switch off.


Economy class: will it be worse?
Invest in a cheap pillow. Wedge it against a window and notice the difference. However, on really long flights, it is often better to secure an isle seat, which is less problematic and easier to manoeuvre from if you need to visit the toilet, especially if you are drinking lots of water.


Recovery time?
Allow a day for each time zone.


Medical option?
There is a drug called Melatonin for jet lag problems. It is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps to control the body’s sleep/wake cycle. By resetting the body’s internal clock, melatonin can treat the underlying cause of al jet lag problems, which is the disruption of the natural sleep/wake cycle. However, it should be  advised by your physician.


Snow can be blinding

We’ve all heard the expression “a blinding snowstorm”. Though that refers to whiteout conditions where visibility is reduced, make no mistake, the snow can be blinding too. Bright sun reflecting on a blanket of fresh white snow can reflect damaging rays into unprotected eyes. The casualty may not be aware of the damage at the time – not feeling the effects for up to several hours.

Watch for these symptoms of snow blindness:

• Eyes become sensitive to light

• Pain in eyes or forehead

• Gritty feeling in the eyes.

First Aid for Snow blindness

1. Make sure the casualty is safe and that you have clean hands.

2. Cover the eyes with thick, moist dressings to cool them and keep light out.

3. Secure dressings in place and transport the casualty to medical help.

4. Reassure the casualty often, as they will be temporarily blinded.

All Tips are offered as suggestions only

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