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18 July 2023

Travelling with glaucoma medication

An elderly woman wearing sunglasses and eating an ice cream on a beach

This article was originally written by Trish Barron-Ganszczyk for Insight magazine.

It’s coming around to that time of year where you may be thinking about going on holiday abroad to warmer climates.

People often have concerns about how to store and keep eye drops cool while they are travelling. Sometimes, the extra concern is where to store them when you arrive at your destination.

Some eye drops only need to be kept refrigerated until they are opened, and then they can be kept out, as long as the temperature where they are stored doesn’t go above 25 degrees.

Thankfully, there are two products available to help keep your eye drops cool.

The Frio Cool Wallet

Frio large purple cool wallet

The Frio Cool Wallet keeps your eye drops cool for between 45 and 48 hours at temperatures in the range 18 – 26°C. The wallet contains a gel crystal pouch, which you activate by submerging in cold water. Once it has expanded, you would put your medication into this, which is then placed in a waterproof outer pouch.

They come in two sizes. A small cool wallet will hold one bottle or up to 10 unit dose vials. The larger one holds up to three bottles and can hold up to 30 unit dose vials. With the vials, you will have to remove them from the packaging, or they won’t fit the gel pouch. Keep the packaging, and once you get to your destination, you can place them back in the packaging and store in the fridge.

Always check the storage information on the leaflet that comes with the eye drops, as they vary as to the length of time before the drops need to be used once the foil pouch has been opened.

Available to purchase directly from FRIO via their website.

The Nomad Medical Travel Case


The Nomad Medical Travel Case

The Nomad Cool Ice Box Company offers a selection of different medical travel cases for eye drops and any other medication that needs to be stored between
2 and 8°C. The length of time they keep your medication cool depends on the size of the travel case you decide to purchase. The Nomad Travel Case works with gel ice packs, so you will need to make sure that your accommodation has a freezer/freezer shelf available, as you need to keep the gel packs frozen. If this is not possible, the travel case is not a good option for you.

Available to purchase directly from The Cool Ice Box Company via their website.

Both companies are based in the UK, so delivery is normally within a few days.

If your accommodation does not have a freezer available to you, you can speak to your consultant and ask if they can prescribe you an alternative drop with no special storage instructions. You would then be able to use the Cool Wallet product.

Putting your eye drops in your hand luggage

Eye drops as well as other medications are normally allowed in your hand luggage. If you are concerned that they may be confiscated, your GP could write a letter for you, confirming they are a prescribed medication. You can also call the airline you are travelling with to check if there would be a problem with taking them onboard.

Arriving at your destination

  • Remove your eye drops from the chosen storage and place them in the door of the fridge.
  • Cool Wallet – Remove the inner gel crystal and let it dry naturally. If you are not able to store your medication in a fridge and need to use the Cool Wallet throughout your holiday, you just need to reactivate the gel crystal pouch every 45-48 hours.
  • Nomad Medical Travel Case – Make sure you place the gel ice packs for the Nomad into the freezer section.

Different time zones

Many people worry that they must calculate the time difference, to make sure their drops go in at the time they would normally put them in back home. This isn’t necessary. Just go by the time of the country you are visiting.

Helpful ideas

  • Speak to your consultant to see if they can prescribe the same drop in a different format, that doesn’t need special storage once opened, and can be stored at room temperature.
  • When booking your holiday, see if the Travel Agent can arrange for a fridge to be put in your hotel room. There may be one there already, but it is worth finding out beforehand. Your accommodation may even have a designated fridge for medication. You could also call the hotel/accommodation directly to find out.
  • Check with the airline you are travelling with, to see if it is possible for your drops to be kept in the onboard fridge.

Remember to give yourself plenty of time to order your Cool Wallet or Nomad Travel case. Bon Voyage!