Tips for Traveling with Thyroid Eye Disease

Written by: Katie Murphy | Last reviewed: October 2021 | Last updated: April 2022

Having a chronic disease like thyroid eye disease (TED) may be unpredictable, but that does not mean you cannot travel.

Whether you plan to travel for work or pleasure, planning a trip when you have TED can take some extra steps to ensure you are set up for an enjoyable time. Following these tips can help you prepare for travel so you can enjoy your journey while living with TED.

Wear sunglasses

Bring and wear large or wraparound sunglasses to keep dust from getting in your eyes. Make sure your sunglasses are tinted with the proper UV rating to protect your eyes. This helps to soothe your eyes from bright lights, both inside and outside.1

Travel with a friend or family member

Travel with a friend, family member, or companion when possible. TED can cause occasional dizziness and changes in depth perception or balance. Having a travel partner can help ensure you are safe and reduce your risk of injury.1

If constant motion makes you feel dizzy or lightheaded, avoid traveling alone when possible.1

Keep your eyes moist

Even on good days, keeping your eyes moist is challenging when you have TED. When traveling, this can become even more difficult. There are things you can do to help you keep your eyes moist and prevent them from becoming dry and irritated, such as:1

  • Use a sleeping mask to keep your eyes closed when you are sleeping. This is especially important if you have retracted eyelids and have difficulty closing your eyelids.
  • Carry your medicines with you. Keeping moisturizing eye drops on hand can be helpful when you feel your eyes becoming gritty or irritated.
  • Take frequent screen breaks on long trips. Catching up on the latest in-flight movie becomes irritating when your eyes become fatigued. Remember to take frequent breaks from the screen and look away. If you are lucky, look out the window and enjoy the view!
  • Adjust the overhead air intake. Fans and air intakes can dry out your eyes, leaving them irritated and gritty. Adjust them as needed to keep them from blowing directly into your eyes.

Plan your travel around sun and shade

Weather is not always predictable, but you can plan your travel to avoid the most sun exposure. Bright sun can further irritate your eyes, and avoiding sunny areas can help. Perhaps plan a hike on a trail with lots of trees that will shade you, or pack a shade tent for the beach to avoid the full sun.

Choose the right clothes

Wear a wide-brimmed hat to keep wind, dust, and sunlight from getting in your eyes. Avoid light-colored clothing worn close to your face, since it can reflect sunlight and cause it to shine into your eyes.1

Check before you fly

If you have recently had surgery for TED and are still recovering, check with your TED specialist about when it is safe to fly. Flying after surgery depends on many factors. Check with your airline before you fly as well, especially if you have had complications.1

Traveling with TED is possible and can be an enjoyable experience. It may require a bit of preparation and thought, but following these tips can help you enjoy travel for work or pleasure.

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