How To Prevent Dry Eyes At A Hotel Or On Your Next Flight

Betsy South Beach

While traveling the world can bring happiness and relieve stress, there are some risks involved. I hate to be a Debbie Downer here, but the Word Health Organization suggests travelers be mindful of infectious diseases in foreign countries you travel to, as well as environmental risks. While this may strike you as common sense, I want to address a less obvious matter that could have a negative impact on your health while you travel: dry eye syndrome.

If you travel often, you should probably take note — because it affects you most. Dry eye syndrome is essentially aqueous tear insufficiency or, as you’ve likely deduced, dry eyes, and this is how you can be affected while you travel.

Dry hotel room and being on device all day can lend to dry eye syndrome.

How you could get dry eyes while traveling

If you travel to any hotel in any city, you’re already prone to getting dry eyes. The air inside hotels is recycled, meaning it’s very, very dry. Unless you open a window (which, if you’re a business traveler in a city, know windows opening is not common), your eyes could dry fast.

Resorts in Vegas are notorious for dry, recycled air.

This also applies to flights. Cabin air is incredibly dry. In fact, humidity levels are known to be drier than the Sahara Desert, and this definitely has an impact on your eyes’ moisture levels. The air on a plane is so dry, there are tech companies trying to create the next best thing to alleviate the dry air on flights.

If you’re a business traveler, and you’re constantly on your laptop, that will also lend to dry eyes (as well as eye strain and blurry eyes, which doesn’t help!).


How dry eyes is potentially harmful to you

If you’re taking a long flight and checking into a hotel, whether one night or many, your eyes are going to get dry fast. When your eyes become dry, they irritate you, and they could also cause blurry vision.

The more you travel, the more often you may have dry eyes, which could lead to serious eye problems down the road, including inflammation of the ocular surface and lacrimal glands. People with dry eyes are also “prone to potentially blinding infections,” according to a recent health report.

Cabin air is drier than the Sahara Desert.

To make matters more complicated, you could lend to eye discomfort with eyestrain, blurry vision and even neck and shoulder pain if you’re constantly on your computer or phone while you’re traveling.

As a writer, I am constantly on my computer. As a travel writer, I am constantly checking into hotels and taking long flights. All this adds up, and I generally get dry eye on every trip, so I’m confident business travelers who are constantly on the road may have the same scenario.

How to avoid dry eyes while traveling

The simple solution is to keep your eyes moist.

I always travel with eye drops when I travel. I’ve used everything from CVS Lubricant Eye Drops to Refresh to Rohto, and to be frank, they’re all really the same thing. They moisturize your eyes to prevent them from going dry. One might have preference over one brand from the other, but they all treat the same way, and they’re all not cheap (between $8 to $20).

Rohto eye drops.

If I had to pick one, I’d say I like Rohto best. It has a quick, refreshing, cooling feeling that actually gives indication something’s definitely working once it’s dropped in your eyes. It’s been helpful when I’m at the computer all day and everything starts to blur, but also when I’m traveling and staying in hotels for days at a time.

Other ways to relieve dry eyes inside a hotel

If you’re staying in a hotel, you should check to see if your guestroom window can open. Sometimes, windows have small slats you can open to allow fresh air into the room. If the window is locked, you can call housekeeping to have it open a crack, depending on the hotel. It never hurts to ask.

Another option is asking for a humidifier for your room. This helps put moisture back in the air. It especially comes in handy over the winter months, since hotels are blasting heat, and the recycled air is already dry. Most four and five star hotels offer humidifiers; you just have to request it.

Lastly, go outside! Get some fresh air. It will help you relax, and it will be a blessing for your eyes.

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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