Friday, April 20, 2007

Traveling with contact lenses

In January, I switched to PureVision disposable lenses to provide more oxygen for my eyes. I had been wearing CSI lenses for 20 years which I absolutely loved because they were so comfortable, so clear and lasted forever (usually 2-3 years). But since I started working in the office five days a week and wearing contacts those five days, there was definitley a noticeable change in the capillaries encroaching on my corneas. Previously, I would wear glasses on the days I worked at home and on the weekends to allow the oxygen to reach my eyes. So for the sake of my eyes' health, I switched to the less comfortable PureVision 30 day lenses on my doctor's advice. I asked what made these new lenses go "bad" after 30 days and my doctor replied lipid deposits. She also mentioned that they didn't require daily cleaning although they did benefit from rubbing. I soon learned what that was all about. At the end of January, a week before my 30 days was up, I had to go to a trade show in California. I stayed at the Hilton, which only has fancy moisturizing soaps. I noticed that my lenses started to look "streaky", like your windshield after putting your car through the car wash with the wax option in the old days (those waxes have gotten much better now). I kept washing my hands and trying to rub them clean, but it just got worse and worse, so much so that I had to resort to wearing my glasses since I didn't have a spare pair of contacts. I especially needed to see well for David Copperfield; what good are illusions when you can't see them? I finally figured out that the problem was in the soap from the Hilton and my obsessive hand washing before handling the lenses.

A month later, I had to go to another trade show and stayed at another Hilton (which had exactly the same soap). So in preparation, I planned out my strategy. I wanted to carry on my bags where I previously checked them in. The presented another issue with the TSA 3-1-1 rule, 3 oz. or smaller container, 1 quart size bag, and 1 bag per traveler. All contacts solutions come in 4 oz. or larger bottles. They need to change this! You can't really transfer contacts solution to any old travel bottle because it has to stay sterile. To get around this, I filled up two cases full of solution, one for each night I was there. I only have two cases, so this would be a problem for a three night stay. Soap was another matter. I didn't want to bring any hard soap as I felt they all had too many lipids, as hard soap is fat-based to begin with. I wanted to bring a liquid soap, but again, they don't sell any in a 3 oz. or less size and I didn't have any extra travel bottles. I ended up buying a 2 oz. sanitizer bottle and emptied it out into another existing sanitizer bottle (we have them all over the house - big surprise). I filled it up with my liquid soap, thinking that the extra sanitizer left in it would only help with my hand washing before handling my lenses. Unfortunately, the leftover sanitizer "liquefied" the soap, but it stilled washed well. In fact, the alcohol probably deactivated any of the existing moisturizers in the soap. I just hoped that the TSA agent wouldn't suspect this strange non-viscous liquid in the sanitizer container. They did check out my quart bag of liquids, but mostly pondered the extra set of contacts that I had to stick in there (stored in liquid as well). I definitely went overboard planning for the care of my contacts for this trip but it worked out perfectly. I got a good month and a half life out of that pair. I count all the days that I wore or didn't wear contacts and stretched it until they just got too uncomfortable, no streaking this time. Now, I never rub them and handle them as little as possible. See, all this obsessive behavior is worth it!

1 comment :

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