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If you're flying this holiday season, you're not likely to escape cramped legs and bad food, but you can avoid dry, itchy, irritated eyes!

Did you know on board, in-flight air is drier than any of the world's deserts?! Relative humidity in the Sahara or Arabian Desert is typically 20-25%. Relative humidity inside most airplane cabins? 10-20%! Yep, that's right! It goes without saying (but we shall…) this is well below the preferred 50% needed for optimum eye comfort. 

Dry air can cause Dry Eye Syndrome, which means itchy, burning and/or watery eyes, and even blurry vision, usually within two hours of boarding a flight, and worsening steadily as humidity levels continue to fall on long-distance, high-altitude flights. These symptoms do not bode well for watching movies, reading, or playing on the computer — your only distractions from the discomfort and general misery of flying in the first place!  

No matter which class you're sitting in, our own Dr. Harvey Moscot has a few simple tips that will ease your dry eyes and keep you flying high this holiday season, including:

  1. Nurture your eyes three months out. Holiday flights are usually booked by September — perfect timing! Begin your flaxseed or fish oil regiment as soon as you make your flight plans. Nutritional supplements in the form of Omega 3 fatty acids or flaxseed oils help lubricate your eyes from the inside out.
  2. Keep hydrated! Drink at least eight ounces of water every hour you're on board when flying; limit your soda, caffeine, and alcohol intake, all of which can contribute to dehydration. Six to eight glasses of water per day regularly, will also minimize the effect of dry eye.
  3. Give your contacts a rest; your eyes will thank you. Contacts need moisture too and the dry air on a plane has the opposite effect. Avoid this potential irritant — when flying, wear your glasses.
  4. No, Visine (and product like it) won't help! Visine and the like contain vasoconstrictors, which may temporarily whiten the eyes, but do nothing to help in the long term and may even cause negative reactions with over use.
  5. Avoid rubbing and touching your eyes. There's nothing like hands, dirty from the germ ridden surfaces of a plane, to exacerbate irritated eyes!
  6. Try RESTASIS. This prescription eye drop medication, available from your optometrist, doesn't just alleviate symptoms, it actually cures dry eye.
  7. If you're especially prone to Dry Eye Syndrome and can't seem to find adequate relief, consider Punctal Occlusion — a safe, harmless, and routine office procedure that provides long lasting relief and is performed right in your optometrist's office. 
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APRIL 5, 2011

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