Recently I was asked a question by email about flying after Cataract Surgery (as a passenger).
Air Travel After Cataract Surgery
“Hello Dr. Foster”
“I have a question about travel. My husband will be having cataract surgery on Dec 18th. Would it be safe for him, to travel by air on Dec 20th and then back to Denver on Dec 21st? My husband thinks the changing air pressure, on the airplane, would damage his eye, so soon after surgery. Is he right, or is he afraid for his eye for no reason. Our grandson is graduating from collage on Dec 20th, in Albuquerque. I think, it would be real important, to both of them, if my husband could be there for our grandson.”
“Your reply would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you, so much”
Flying After Cataract Surgery
As a general rule, it is fine to fly after cataract surgery. We can confirm that this is a good idea at your one-day post op of visit.
There are three considerations:
1. Safety of the eye at altitude,
2. Dry eye on airplanes
3. Ideal access to healthcare while he heals.
Safety of the eye at Altitude when flying after Cataract Surgery
In retinal surgery, often air is injected into the eye. The air expands at higher altitudes and can cause pain and damage. We do not inject air during cataract surgery so we do not have this problem. As a result, it does not hurt your eye to fly after cataract surgery.
Dry Eye on Airplanes
Many feel their eyes are drier when flying. You may need some artificial tears to keep your eyes comfortable during the flight.
Ideal Access to Healthcare After Cataract Surgery
In routine cataract surgery, we see you the day after surgery and then one to two weeks later. As such, it is fine to travel during that time. The exception would be if you experience some unanticipated complication where we would want to monitor your progress more closely. If you are out of town, it would be difficult to get together quickly. It would be rare for this to be a problem, but it is worth considering.
This response outlines the basic elements that go into flying commercially in the early postoperative period after cataract surgery. If I can answer any more specific questions about your circumstances on this subject, please leave a comment or contact me at my office.Gary J.L. Foster, M.D.
Cataract and Laser Eye Surgeon
Board Certified Ophthalmologist
Fort Collins, Colorado 80525