Life Thru A Lens
I travel because I want to experience the world because I want to touch, taste, smell and hear it but above all because I want to see it! The Pyramids of Giza, The Easter Island Statues, and The Grand Canyon are world famous images which can stir the soul like nothing else. I am very lucky to have seen such things and to have a good level of eyesight to see them with. For the visually impaired, however, travelling with prescription glasses or lenses can sometimes be a challenge. I mean what happens if you break your glasses or lose your lenses?
The latter happened to my buddy Nik in Venezuela last year after rather hastily packing one morning for an early bus. He woke later than intended after a night out partying and he had to grab all of his stuff in a hurry causing him to forget to take his lenses from his bedside drawer. He needn’t have bothered by the way as the bus turned out to be 90 minutes late.
We then spent the following day traipsing around chemists, opticians and even hospitals trying to find a replacement prescription. This proved challenging partially because neither of us spoke much Spanish at the time and also because the Venezuelan healthcare system was experiencing something of a supply crisis and finding all manner of prescription products could sometimes prove difficult. In the end, we found them in an optician and because of the insane black market rate for dollars they didn’t cost Nik as much as they could have done.
It’s not just losing these things that can be a problem though. How do contact lenses stay functional whilst white water rafting, when trekking in the desert or even when just out for a midnight dip in the pool? The truth is that there is no foolproof, magic answer but thankfully there are some very sensible and effective steps you can take.
A Site for Sore Eyes – Poor Explorers Guide to Travelling With Contact Lenses
1. Bring spares. Plenty of spares.
Work out how long you are going travelling for and calculate how many sets you would generally use in this time. Then factor in that you are probably going to be spending more time in the water, sand and heat which may cause them to wear out faster than usual so add some more on top of that number. Bear in mind it may save to buy in bulk and always look online where you can usually find a bargain at a fraction of the high street price. However, you should still be sure to use a reputable dealer such as Vision Direct. Then pay close attention to Number 2â€¦
2. Don’t keep them all in the same place!
You pack 3 months supply into your toiletry bag and then you leave it in a hostel like my friend Nik did. What now?! Learn from his mistake and spread them throughout your belongings. Pack some in your big backpack and some in your day bag. If you have a travel buddy then hand them some to carry with you.
3. Bring a Prescription.
Most countries have decent chemists and opticians so in an emergency you should be able to buy some more provided you have the right prescription with you. My advice is to scan and email it to yourself so that you can print it off whenever you need it and if possible, also try to get a version translated into the local language. Of course, you may end up paying more this way as it is far cheaper to buy them online whenever you can!
Ok so all contacts are disposables but the question is do you go with monthly or dailies? My advice is to ask yourself what are you going to do be doing on your travels, will you be leisurely taking in Europe’s museums or teaching for a month in America? In this case, you can probably get by with monthlies. If on the other hand, you’re going motorbiking around Thailand and disembarking only to wash and cool yourself in the many waterfalls then you will want dailies. If, like me, your trips are a combination of both types of activities then maybe take a selection of each.
5. Keep clean.
This means both you and the lenses. Wash your hands frequently (you should be doing this anyway especially in a lot of countries out there) and pack a travel size solution for your lenses.
If you’re the kind of traveller who spends a lot of time wearing sunglasses then consider getting a prescription set before you go. This may mean that at least in the daylight hours you sometimes don’t need to wear your lenses at all. Make sure you get the right, good quality paid and that they are properly UV absorbent. However, please don’t wear them indoors or at night unless you are a film star or me!
7. Prepare for the flight.
Maybe we should have started with this one but we like to do things different here! Remember that pressurised air cabins can dry your eyes out causing all kind of problems for you and your lenses. You can countenance this by carrying a small bottle of eye drops or wetting your lenses with solution. Just be mindful of regulations about carry-on liquids. To make things even easier you may even wish to consider wearing glasses on the flight.
8. Take them out whilst swimming.
Erm, as much as possible, try to take your lenses out whilst swimming. In the case of that spur of the moment drunken skinny dip then we’ll forgive you for maybe overlooking this but don’t say that we didn’t warn you.
Well, I hope you guys find all of this helpful. If you have any suggestions I can add to this then let me know, we’ll try to add them in.
Until next time, safe travels.