Eye Conditions That Make You Unable to Fly on a Plane

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is frequently asked whether a patient’s recovery from eye surgery or the presence of a particular ailment precludes them from flying. If you have any concerns about your vision, you should consult an ophthalmologist. It is crucial to be aware that there are instances when flying might be hazardous to your eyes.

Consult your doctor about your trip plans if you had any surgery. Learn what to expect following surgery so you can recognize if you are experiencing a dangerous symptom. Consider staying at home for a few days — or as long as your doctor suggests — just in case something goes wrong. Keep all of your follow-up appointments so that your doctor can make sure you’re healing properly.

Is It Safe for Me to Fly After My:

Retinal Surgery

eye conditions that make you unable to fly on a plane

You should only fly after your retina has been fixed if your doctor believes it is safe. An ophthalmologist may need to inject a gas bubble into a detached or damaged retina to keep it in place while it heals. If the patient flies, goes scuba diving or suffers any other significant air pressure change, the gas bubble in the eye can expand dangerously. If the gas expands inside the eye, considerable damage and blindness might result. Until your doctor confirms that the gas bubble is gone, you should stay at around the altitude of your surgery. Unlike a gas bubble, a silicone oil bubble has few constraints when it comes to flying.

Glaucoma Surgery
The pressure shift from flying is usually not a worry after glaucoma surgery, whether it is a peripheral iridotomy, laser trabeculoplasty, shunt implantation, or another procedure. The next day, you should be able to fly. However, consult your doctor to obtain approval for your specific condition, and follow up as needed following the procedure.

Retinal Tear Surgery
Laser surgery is used to restore the retina in the majority of instances. After laser retina surgery, there is no need to avoid flying. On the other hand, retinal tears can lead to retinal detachments, which are typically treated by injecting gas or liquid into the eye. If you were flying, gas or liquid injected into the eye would be a big concern.

Cataract Surgery

eye conditions that make you unable to fly on a plane

Routine cataract surgery would not prevent you from flying right afterward. Flying is fine if your doctor has cleared you for everyday activities. Just make sure you do not forget about your follow-up appointments. Flying should be fine even if the cataract surgery was more difficult or had difficulties unless air or gas had to be placed in the eye as part of the surgery.

Additional Eye Surgery

Most surgeries involving the outer area of the eye or the eyelids, such as pterygium surgery (removal of a benign, fleshy growth from the eye) or eyebrow-lifting surgery, are safe to fly following.

When flying after any surgery on the outside of the eye, the following are the main concerns:
● ensuring that you attend your doctor’s follow-up appointments on time
● maintaining a healthy eye
● preventing the surgical incision and eye from drying out during the flight

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