If you are a frequent flyer, live abroad or you are considering having refractive lens exchange (RLE) surgery but have an upcoming holiday it’s important you know how soon after surgery it is safe to fly again.
Generally, there are no real, direct risks related to flying after your procedure, however, it is advised that you wait for at least a week until flying again purely for your own comfort and the ability to see your treating surgeon again easily should you need to. If it is absolutely essential you fly sooner than this it is important you consult your surgeon as ultimately the final and professional decision is down to them and will be different for different people. Everyone’s eyes heal at different rates so this will affect the decision your surgeon will come to.
The main issue flying will cause is dryness of your eyes. The altitude has no effect on your eyes, however, the atmosphere inside an aeroplane is extremely dry and will dry your eyes out quickly. Following RLE surgery your eyes are likely to be more sensitive than usual so make sure you take lubricating eye drops in your hand luggage to prevent your eyes becoming dry and improve comfort levels if needed.
Having dry eyes does not directly affect the healing of your eyes after surgery but it can make them itchy and irritated, which in turn increases the likelihood of you scratching or rubbing your eyes and increasing the risk of infection. The chances are your eyes will feel more uncomfortable sitting on an aeroplane than they would if you were sitting in your living room.
Obviously long-haul flights are far worse than short-haul as your eyes are exposed to the dryer atmosphere for longer but the advice for both are the same – take your lubricant eye drops and seek the advice of your treating surgeon before booking your tickets!
It is important to bear in mind that part of your post-surgery care is for you to attend your follow-up appointments. Your first appointment is between one to three weeks after surgery. The second appointment if needed is usually scheduled for 1-3 months after the initial follow-up appointment.
We do ask that you attend the first appointment before flying and will work with you to accommodate your travel arrangements when booking your surgery and follow up visits.
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