Can You Carry Disposable Contact Lens on a Plane?

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Whether you are on edge about an enthralling summer vacation to the Bahamas or the big white North to enjoy the rain and the snow, your eyeglasses might transition into a spoilsport. If you are thinking of switching to contact lenses, even better, disposable contact lenses, for the trip, or in general – kudos to clearer vision without a pair of glasses perched on your nose! 

However, that’s about the trip. What about the plane? Can you carry disposable contact lenses as well as contact lenses on a plane? Here’s what you need to know.

Hand Luggage

Disposable contact lenses, as well as conventional contact lenses, are both considered liquid items. This translates to the TSA’s Liquids Rule applying to these items if you choose to carry them in hand luggage.

Since disposable contact lenses contain contact solution, as do conventional lenses, contact lenses, in general, are categorized as ‘liquids’. So, what is TSA’S liquids rule that applies to disposable (as well as conventional) contact lenses?

TSA Liquids Rule

TSA has a 3-1-1 rule when it comes to carrying liquids as carry-on or in the hand luggage. The rule states that you can only carry 3.4 ounces (or less) of liquid in the same (100 ml) containers. 

All containers of liquid (including your disposable and conventional contact lenses) should all be kept inside one clear quart-sized bag of about 0.94 litres. The last 1 from the 3-1-1 liquids rule denotes that each passenger is allowed to carry only one quart-bag with them. 

This means that you’re allowed to carry disposable contact lenses, given that the containers that you carry them in or their original containers do not carry over 100 ml. of the contact solution (the liquid, in this context). You’ll be required to keep the containers of these lenses in a clear plastic bag, sizing no more than 0.94 litres.

Note: You can carry as many disposable lenses as long as they are no more than 100 ml each in quantity. However, you’ll only be able to carry ONE quart-bag for collectively keeping and carrying the lenses in.

Doesn’t the exception for liquid medicine apply to contact lens solution?

Since there are exceptions to the TSA’S Liquids Rule, you must be wondering if they apply to disposable contact lenses and contact lens solutions. 

Well, they don’t. Yes, liquids such as baby food and medicine such as insulin syringes and antibiotics, etc., are exempted from the liquids rule; such is not the case with contact lenses. 

So, does that mean your container could be over 100 ml, even if the solution or the disposable contact lenses in the container are no more than 100 ml? No. See, this is where most people go wrong. 

Not only is your liquid supposed to be less than 100 ml or 3 oz., but so should the capacity of your container. This means that your container should not exceed a 100 ml capacity, even if it does not have the contact solution (or any liquid) brimming to the very neck of it.

Does the disposable contact lens need to be in the bag of liquids?

Yes, since contact lenses come under the TSA’s Liquids Rule, they need to go in a clear quart-bag of 0.94 litres or less. This is in accordance with the 3-1-1 rule wherein the one in the middle denotes that all liquids (including your contact lenses) should be stored in a clear quart-bag of about 1 litre.

When you are going through the security screening, you will need to place this quart bag separately so that the customs officials can examine it before you are allowed to carry them in the cabin on the plane. 

Checked-in Luggage

There is no reason why disposable contact lenses will not be allowed in checked-in baggage. But, just to give you the surety, you can bring disposable contact lenses, contact solutions, conventional contact lenses, and other such items in your checked-in luggage.

There is a ‘very’ narrowed down list of things that you are not allowed to carry in your checked-in baggage, and thankfully, disposable contact lenses, or any other contact lenses for that fact, do not fall under this list. 

Since the TSA’s liquid’s rule does not apply to checked-in luggage, you can freely carry as many solutions as you want to in the checked-in luggage. Besides, if you use a monthly disposable contact lens, it is probably best to pack it in the checked luggage. 

Monthly disposable contact lenses are built to be replaced at least after 20 days, which means they carry more solutions than the daily disposable contact lenses.

This shall benefit you since you will not have to be worried about keeping the liquid (the contacts and the solution) in a limited amount owing to the liquids rule applied on hand baggage.

Do you need a medical prescription to carry disposable contact lenses on a plane?

No, you do not need a medical prescription to carry your conventional or disposable contact lenses on a plane. You will not need a medical prescription for powered eyeglasses as well.

Why so? Although the TSA mentions nothing about this, it is probably because contact lenses do not fall under the exemptions of the Liquids Rule. Thus, they are considered equivalent to any other liquid, such as aerosols, gels, toothpaste, perfume, etc. Thus, you do not need to present your medical prescription to the security official when carrying disposable contact lenses on a plane.

Can you sleep on the plane with your disposable contact lenses on?

It is obvious that someone from the cabin crew would not come and tell you that you need to take off your lenses before sleeping on the flight.

Why? Because it does not bother them. But, it should bother you. It is always strongly advised to not wear disposable contact lenses/conventional contact lenses while sleeping. 

Of course, a 20 minutes nap with your contacts still on is acceptable and probably harmless. However, the answer changes if it is a long haul flight, and you are planning to keep your contacts on since you find it to be too much a hassle to remove them and put them back on amidst co-passengers. We shall advise you to not keep your contacts on while sleeping on the plane (or just sleeping, in general).

Since the plane cabin tends to operate at a temperature that could potentially dry out eyes, keeping your contact lenses on while you are sleeping will further reduce the moisture in your eyes.

This, in turn, can cause a serious eye infection or itching/burning sensation in the eyes. Thus, as a rule of thumb, it is good to practice removing your disposable contact lenses (even if they are monthly disposable contact lenses, rather than the daily ones) when sleeping on the plane and putting them back on when you ‘rise and shine’.

If that sounds overwhelming to you, it is best to carry your glasses and wear contact lenses only when you have arrived at your destination.

What else to pack for your eyes on a plane?

Here are things you should pack when carrying contact lenses or disposable contact lenses with you on a plane:

Travel Size Contact Solution

You are already aware of the fact that any container (containing liquid) with a capacity of over 100 ml is not permissible in the cabin. 

Most often, you’d think an easy workaround for this would be to transfer the solution for your contact lens into a bottle that has a 100 ml capacity at maximum. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. 

Technically, yes, you will be able to carry more of the contact solution this way, but it defeats the whole purpose of carrying the contact solution. 

Contact solutions are sterile liquids, and if you transfer them to just another travel-friendly bag that you could better put to use to carry some emergency Nutella, there are high chances you will contaminate the solution.

If the solution is contaminated, it can potentially harm your eyes while also causing an eye infection. 

What do you do? Buy a travel-friendly solution. Since daily disposable contact lenses are available in containers that do not size over 100 ml anyway, it is ideal to buy a travel-friendly disposable contact lens as well as a solution if you use monthly disposables or conventional lenses.

Lens Rewetting Drop

No, not your regular cleaning solution. A lens rewetting drop is not a cleaning or even a contact solution but a thick solution that is used to keep the eyes moisturized. Since flight journeys, especially long-haul flight journeys, can be excessively dehydrating, taking care of your eyes is of utmost importance.

Using a lens rewetting drop will replenish your contact lens with moisture which is much needed amidst the drying cabin environment. You can release one drop at a time in each eye or as you consider feasible.

Clean Storage Case

This is in context to all contact lenses, despite what type they are – daily disposable, monthly disposable, or just the conventional ones. You will need a clean storage case to store your contact lenses while you are not wearing them, especially overnight. 

Yes, even if you are using a daily disposable contact lens, having a clean storage case means that you could remove them and keep them safe and clean if you need to take them off, even if it is for a short while.

Apart from keeping the lens free of contamination, it will also keep them moist (but you know it all already).

A Pair of Glasses

Always carry a pair of glasses, even if you have long-ditched them, and now they are sitting in the cupboard, accumulating dust. That is, as long as they STILL match your prescriptions, that is. 

If an eye infection or injury takes place, or if you lose your contact lenses (always expect the worst on a trip), you will, after all, be thankful that you brought those glasses with you.

Extra Pair of Contacts

Okay, so you did bring your glasses with you, just in case you decide to be clumsy and lose your ONLY pair of contact lenses. But, what if you do not wish to wear glasses?

It’s simple. Always carry another pair of contacts. As long as they are disposable contact lenses that are used and disposed of on a daily basis, chances are you are already carrying a couple of contacts. 

However, if you use a monthly disposable contact lens or just the regular ones, you should always keep a pair in handy so that you can see that beautiful mountain or read that important business document without glasses.

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Author - Willa Carson
Happywayfarer author Willa Carson
Hi, I'm Willa Carson, a passionate traveler who has been exploring the world for 7 years. Whether it's trekking through the Himalayas, exploring ancient ruins in South America, or simply savoring a cup of coffee at a local cafe, I believe that travel has the power to enrich our lives in countless ways. So join me on my journey and let's discover the world together!
Read more about me here.

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