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21 October 2020

Glaucoma and air travel

People with glaucoma can usually fly on an airplane without any problems.

Inside an airplane cabin

Controlled air pressure inside the airplane’s cabin makes up for most of the natural drop in pressure when the plane reaches higher altitudes. A moderate decrease in atmospheric pressure will not cause an obvious rise in eye pressure.

It is always advisable to put your glaucoma drops in your hand-luggage when travelling. The air inside a plane can be dry. If you have ocular surface disease (dry eyes), or are on a long-haul flight, you may need to put drops in while in the air.

Having access to your eye drops is also important with the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. All passengers on an airplane are currently required to wear a face mask, unless they are exempt due to medical reasons. Wearing a mask has been found to cause your eyes to become dry. Your exhaled breath can escape from the top of the mask, making the eyes drier than normal.

Placing your eye drops in your hand luggage also means that you won’t be without them should your hold luggage go missing.

Although it is safe to fly after surgery, you should bear in mind that your eye doctor may wish to see you for several clinic appointments following surgery, to check that the eye pressure is at the correct level. It is still recommended that if you have glaucoma, fly frequently and have advanced circulatory problems, you should seek advice from your eye doctor.

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