Ocular Problems Associated With Air Travel

It is crucial to ask your ophthalmologist whether there are any activities you should limit or avoid if you have been diagnosed with an eye problem. If you are hesitant, make sure you understand the doctor’s instructions and ask questions regarding specific activities.

Certain eye surgeries make it very dangerous to fly in an airplane. For example, as part of cornea transplant surgery, an air or gas bubble may be implanted in the eye. Flying can be hazardous if you have an air or gas bubble in your eye. If you have received a corneal transplant, talk to your ophthalmologist about flying.

Aside from eye surgeries, there are also eye conditions that can inhibit you from traveling through air. Here are a few to consider.

Is It Possible to Fly if You Have:

Retinal Holes or Wrinkles?

ocular problems associated with air travel

Flying will not exacerbate retinal holes or wrinkles. However, there are cases where retinal holes can sometimes lead to retinal detachment, which is a serious eye condition. If you have retinal holes or wrinkles, discuss any long or exotic trip plans with your doctor so you are not trapped in an emergency far from medical help.

Dilated Eyes After an Eye Exam
Yes, after your eyes have been dilated, you can safely fly. However, because you will be sensitive to light, you must bring your sunglasses with you.

Keratitis
Flying is not dangerous if you have keratitis. However, the air inside airplanes can be extremely dry, which can worsen keratitis symptoms. Make sure you have eye drops or other relief options on hand to keep your eyes comfortable.

Is it safe to fly if I see flashes and floaters?

ocular problems associated with air travel

Yes, you can use flashes and floaters to fly. Flying will not exacerbate your flashes or floaters. On the other hand, flashes and floaters can be a warning indication of a potentially blinding retinal detachment or other retinal issues. If you notice a rapid rise in flashes or floaters, see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible, ideally before your departure.

Posterior Vitreous Detachment
If you have a posterior vitreous detachment (when the gel-like liquid inside the eye shrinks and pulls away from the back of the eye), you can safely fly. Flying does not exacerbate a posterior vitreous detachment.

However, similar to retinal holes, PVD can cause retinal detachment. Discuss your condition with your doctor and what can happen next. If a posterior vitreous detachment develops into a retinal detachment and requires emergency treatment, you do not want to be caught off guard.

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