How to keep your eyes healthy on flights

Following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, flights are full of passengers excited about being able to travel again.

But while the thought of going overseas is a thrill, flying – and especially long-haul trips – can be tough on the eyes.

To combat this issue, consultant ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeon, Dr Elizabeth Hawkes ( has shared her top tips.

Use eye drops

Due to the low humidity levels, eyes can become dry while on aeroplane trips.

“Rubbing the eyes will make this worse and can cause risk of damage to the eye itself or surrounding area,” she noted. “Instead, pack some lubricating eye drops and use them regularly during a long-haul flight.”

Wear glasses instead of contacts

Swap your contact lenses for glasses if you're flying for several hours or more.

“Temperature fluctuations and lack of humidity on the flight could irritate your eyes and this could be exacerbated with contacts in,” said Dr Hawkes, adding that it’s best to avoid sleeping with contacts in too.

Pack fabric reusable make-up pads

When removing eye make-up, it’s important to be as gentle as possible in order to protect your natural lashes from damage and also not to damage the delicate skin around the eyes.

“Use fabric reusable pads rather than cotton-wool ones, not only because the fibres from cotton-wool can often get into eyes causing irritation, aggravation and blood-shot eyes, but also because it’s kinder to the environment,” the expert explained. “Keep repeating the process again until your eyelashes are clean. It’s important to remove all the products from lashes in order to prevent broken lashes and irritation, as well as corneal abrasions, and in worst cases, infections.”

Take regular breaks from in-flight entertainment

While it’s tempting to stare at the screen for the duration of the flight, this isn’t so great for eye health.

“Following the 20-20-20 rule is a good one for this. It basically means that every 20 minutes you should look away from your screen and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This helps to give the eyes a rest and reduce eye strain,” she commented.

Leave fake eyelashes at home.

The eyelashes aren’t just there for aesthetic purposes - they do a vital job protecting our eyes, helping to deflect anything that could cause harm.

“Accordingly, it’s crucial that you keep them healthy. The trend for wearing false eyelashes has increased dramatically in recent years, whereby a lot of people think it’s O.K. to wear them every day. I would definitely warn against this and suggest saving false eyelashes for special occasions, rather than everyday use. Prolonged wear can damage the eyes and cause infections,” Dr Hawkes added.