Does the idea of flying out to spend the holidays with family and friends make your eyes mist up?
Good! You’re going to need the moisture!
One of the biggest challenges with air travel is to prevent dry eyes. Why?
You are probably used to a relative humidity above 40%. If you have a hygrometer or humidity sensor in your house, you are in the habit of monitoring your home’s relative humidity. When the humidity gets too low, such as in cold climates in the winter, you may experience dry eyes, sinus irritation and dry skin. Some homeowners install a humidifier in the winter to keep humidity at a comfortable level that does not allow mold growth, in the range of 40% – 49%.
The cabins in airplanes have relative humidity of 5% to 20%. This can lead to the surface of the eyes starting to dry out. Your eyes are naturally moistened by tears produced by the tear ducts. However, if the air on the outside of the eye is dry, moisture on the eye’s surface will start to evaporate more quickly than the tear ducts can produce moisture.
In the same way that a fan dries out a flood quickly, re-circulated air on an airplane is stale and blowing hard. The fan above each passenger’s head is usually set at full blast and bearing directly down on the passenger. This fast-moving, stale air tends to dry the eyes.
Symptoms of dry eyes include dryness, scratchiness, soreness, irritation and a burning sensation. You can help prevent dry eyes, and alleviate the problem, during airplane travel by following these simple tips:
- Blink frequently to increase eye moisture. Long periods staring at a book or electronic screen reduces your blink rate. Take lots of eye breaks or listen to earphones instead.
- Aim your seat’s personal fan away from your eyes.
- In your carry-on, pack lubricating eye drops such as homeopathic dry eye drops, which are free of preservatives, mercury compounds and anticholinergics. Another option we suggest is Oasis TEARS PLUS Eyedrops. Use drops according to package directions.
- Drink fluids – especially water – to stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol, which is dehydrating.
If you have need to prevent dry eyes, see our page on the prevention and treatment of dry eyes.
And while you go on holiday, why not get some new mascara that does not have mercury? According to the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database, an independent guide dedicated to researching and sharing the contents of personal care products and their effects on the body, mercury has been found in the following products related to your eyes: Paula Dorf Cake Mascara for Eyes, Raven and Similasan Healthy Relief Eye Drops, 1 for Dry and Red Eyes.