An Eye on Travel: An Overview of Travel-Related Ocular Complications

Document Type : Perspective


1 School of Medicine, National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland

2 School of Medicine, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Travellers are at risk of a diverse range of environmental and infectious conditions, some of which may affect the eyes and lead to blindness in severe cases. Travel-related ocular infections include onchocerciasis, leishmaniasis, cysticercosis, trachoma, dengue, loiasis, and leptospirosis. The travel medicine adviser should also recognise other hazards encountered during travel which may adversely affect the eye. These include recreational activities such as high altitude trekking, bungee jumping, skiing, scuba diving, and sun exposure. There is a subset of travellers who have underlying eye conditions, which predispose them to complications during international travel, including angle-closure glaucoma, and expansion of intraocular gas from previous vitreoretinal surgery. Contact lens wearers have a greater risk of ocular infection and corneal erosion during travel, especially where hygiene standards are low. Despite the susceptibility of the eye to infection, traumatic injury and environmental damage during international travel, this topic is not frequently discussed in the context of pre-travel consultations. Travel medicine professionals should have a reasonable knowledge of the major ocular risks associated with travel overseas.


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