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Traveling Southeast Asia with Contact Lenses, What To Know

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I wear contact lenses, so I have a lot of experience traveling southeast Asia with my contact lenses. I also have learned a few things that any contact lens wearer should be aware of, especially when traveling out on the back roads or in the countryside of Southeast Asia.

Suppose you have contact lenses and are planning to travel around Southeast Asia. In that case, you need to know a few essential things, such as having extra contact lenses and solutions in your suitcase and bringing some eye drops or prescription glasses, just to name a few.

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My Top Tips For Traveling To Southeast Asia With Contact Lenses

Southeast Asia is the perfect destination whether you’re going on a relaxing beach vacation or an exotic adventure. From the beautiful beaches of Thailand to Cambodia’s historical temples and bustling city nightlife in Vietnam, there’s something for everyone!

But while planning your trip, you will likely come across a logistical question – how do I handle my contact lenses during my stay? As someone who has traveled around Southeast Asia often with contact lenses, I understand that extra care must be taken when traveling and wearing contacts abroad.

Here are some tips about wearing contact lenses and traveling in Southeast Asia.

Have extra contact lenses with you

Contact lenses are lightweight and do not take up any weight or space in your luggage. So bring more than what you may think you need on your travels.

For example, you may think you will need seven pairs for your trip. Then bring with you 12 pairs instead. I remember once, in a hotel room in Ho Chi Minh, I lost two left eye contact lenses in a row.

I am unsure how I did it, but they kept slipping out of my hand, and I could not find them. Sometimes, things slip out of your hands, and you cannot find them, or the floor is so dirty that you may not want to put it back in your eye.

So I always travel with some extra pairs. They will not add to your luggage weight, and if you lose a few pairs in a row as I did, you will have some backup contact lenses ready to be used.

Have the contact lens solutions you will need, as you may not be able to find it

If there is a unique contact lens solution you like or need for your contact lenses, then bring it with you. I like the Bio True, Bausch& Lomb solution, and I can buy that in very convenient travel sizes. Almost all contact lens solutions now also come in travel-size containers. So if you want to save yourself a lot of headaches, bring your contact lens solution with you.

If you are not picky about your contact lens solution, you can buy one in a pharmacy or drug store. When I ran out of my Bio True, Bausch & Lomb contact lens solution, I used some local or other brands and did not have a problem.

But if you are spending a lot of time out in the countryside, finding any contact lens solution may be much harder, if not almost impossible. So you should bring it with you.

If you are worried about the weight of your luggage, I would consider bringing more minor things like toothpaste, shampoo, and soap, as you can usually find it anywhere, even in the countryside or on back roads. But, the correct contact lens solution will be much more difficult.

If your eyes are super sensitive to pollution, dust, or dirt, you must consider that.

Asia can be polluted, especially in some of the larger cities. Some days, there can be a haze or a cloud hanging over large Asian cities, and this is usually not a gray sky but is more than likely pollution.

If you are interested in the pollution levels, you can go to the World’s Air Quality Pollution Index to see what the air quality or pollution levels are for where you are planning to travel.

Besides the pollution, many places in Southeast Asia also have a lot of construction. Construction on the roads, construction of new buildings. This can also add a lot to the dust levels of where you are traveling or the road you are walking on.

As a contact lens wearer, you need to be aware of this. What I have done is if the pollution is very bad or I have been out on some very dusty, dirt-filled roads, I may just change my contact lenses before I am supposed to.

For example, if my doctor tells me to change them every 14 days, instead, I may change them every week. That is up to you, but you will need to consider the number of contact lens pairs you may bring with you.

Bring some eye drops on your travels.

Because of the pollution levels, eye drops may help relieve your eyes. I use some over-the-counter comfort eye drops, and I have found that they help give me some comfort in my eyes, especially if I have a day with a lot of wind, dust, and pollution getting into my eyes.

Sometimes, if I am on a bus or in a car most of the day, my eyes may dry up, so I have found that eye drops can help give them some added comfort.

You can also talk to your eye doctor before you travel, and they may have some suggestions, or they may be able to give you an eye drop for your eyes.

Have prescription glasses for backup.

Be sure to have prescription glasses with you in case you need them. I have had to deal with eye infections and pink eye several times. So make sure you have a pair of prescription glasses if you need to stop wearing your contact lenses.

The last thing you want to happen on your travels is to find that you cannot see anything since you did not bring your prescription glasses and can no longer wear your contact lenses.

Wear Sunglasses

I usually always wear my sunglasses. First, I have very sun-sensitive eyes and feel like the sunglasses somehow help to some degree to block the dust, dirt, and pollution from going straight into my eye.

If you do not already have a good pair of sunglasses, I would consider getting yourself a good pair. They will come in handy during your travels around Southeast Asia.

Consider getting a good eyewash.

If your eyes are as sensitive as mine, consider bringing eyewash. Again, you can buy some eyewash over the counter. If dust, dirt, and pollution bother you and your eyes, if you wash out your eyes every evening, you may find this will help with your comfort level for your eyes.

Have a copy of your prescription handy

As they say, it is better to be prepared, as you never know what may happen. You may lose all your contact lenses, or you may lose your prescription glasses. You may need to try to buy some new contact lenses or glasses here in Southeast Asia. If you have a current prescription that works for you, bring a copy with you or have a photocopy on your phone so you can access it if needed.

I once purchased two pairs of eyeglasses in Hanoi, Vietnam. I bought them both simultaneously, assuming they had the same prescription. I went to my eye doctor in the States, showed her my glasses, and said, “I do not know why, but I can see out of this pair of glasses well, but this other pair seems to bother me.”

She checked them both, and they were two different prescriptions. Even though I had purchased the eyeglasses simultaneously, the optical shop gave me two different eyeglass prescriptions. I am not sure if I had my prescription with me would have helped, but at least I would have known what was correct and what was not.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What if I lose all my contact lenses?

I had to purchase contact lenses here in Asia as I had no left. My eyes can only use the brand Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism, and I have a prescription that is not very common.

So I had a tough time finding anyone with any stock of the brand and prescription I needed. I finally had my staff help me find them through a company in Hong Kong, and we then had to courier them to Vietnam. All of this was not that quick,

I believe it took at least a week. if you have a prescription like mine, you may have difficulty finding what you need. Others were maybe able to find what they needed. It just really depends on what your contact lens brand type and prescription is.

Can you take contact lenses on a plane?

You can take your contact lenses on a plane. I bring them on a plane all the time. But if you are also traveling with your contact lens solution, you must ensure it is under 3 ounces, or they will not allow this to go on the plane with you.

Many contact lens solution suppliers now have kits you can buy that have a case and a travel-ready contact lens solution. I buy a travel kit from Bio True, ie, Bausch & Lomb. If unsure, buy one of those kits to bring on the plane.

Is it safe to wear contact lenses in Southeast Asia’s humid climate?

Yes, it’s generally safe. However, high humidity can sometimes cause discomfort. Using re-wetting drops may help keep your eyes comfortable

Can I easily find contact lens solutions in Southeast Asia?

Yes, in most urban and tourist areas, you can find contact lens solutions in pharmacies and optical shops. However, it’s advisable to bring an adequate supply in case specific brands or types are not available.

Are daily disposable lenses a better option for Southeast Asia travel?

Daily disposables can be convenient for travel, eliminating the need for carrying solutions. They also reduce the risk of infections due to less handling.

How should I protect my lenses from dust and pollution?

Always wash your hands before handling lenses and use airtight containers for storage. It’s also advisable to wear sunglasses outdoors to protect your eyes from dust and pollutants.

Can I swim with contact lenses in Southeast Asia’s beaches and pools?

It’s not recommended to swim with contact lenses due to the risk of eye infections, especially in open water. Consider using prescription goggles for swimming.

Is there a risk of eye infections when wearing contacts in Southeast Asia?

The risk exists, particularly due to humidity and exposure to unfamiliar bacteria. Maintaining lens hygiene and hand cleanliness is crucial.

What should I do if I develop an eye infection while traveling?

Discontinue lens use immediately and consult a local healthcare provider. Carry a pair of prescription glasses as a backup.

How do I handle contact lenses during long flights to Southeast Asia?

During long flights, it’s often more comfortable to wear glasses. If you choose to wear contacts, keep your eyes moist with re-wetting drops.

Should I bring a copy of my contact lens prescription when traveling to Southeast Asia?

Yes, it’s a good idea to carry a copy of your prescription in case you need to purchase new lenses or glasses during your trip.

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