With over 45 million contact lens wearers in the USA and over 140 million worldwide, there are a lot of people wondering if they can bring contact lens solution on their next flight.
According to TSA regulations, you can bring contact lens solution on a plane in both your carry on and checked bags, though if packed in your carry on, the bottle should be no larger than 3.4oz/100ml.
However, if the contact lens solution is deemed “medically necessary”, you can bring larger bottles.
If you wear contacts, there is much more you need to know, though, to make sure that your next flight goes as smoothly as possible, including whether the type of contact lens solution and contact lens you wear make a difference, and more.
Table of Contents
- 1 Bringing Contact Lens Solution in Your Carry on Bag
- 2 Bringing Contact Lens Solution in Your Checked Bag
- 3 Domestic vs. International Flights
- 4 Airline Regulations
- 5 Avoid Putting Contact Solution in a Travel Bottle
- 6 No Need to Put Contact Lenses or Solution in Your Liquids Bag
- 7 The Type of Contact Lens Solution Doesn’t Matter
- 8 You Can Bring Contact Lenses on a Plane
- 9 The Type of Contact Lenses Don’t Matter
- 10 Be Careful When Wearing Contact Lenses on the Flight
- 11 Avoid Wearing Colored Contact Lenses
- 12 How to Pack Contact Lenses for Flying
Bringing Contact Lens Solution in Your Carry on Bag
The TSA have something called the 3-1-1 Rule that only permits passengers to bring liquids, including contact lens solution (as well as gels and aerosols), in containers that are no larger than 3.4oz/100ml in a 1-quart sized bag.
This means that if you pack contact lens solution in a container that exceeds this, it will be confiscated before you can pass airport security.
However, the TSA also state that they allow “larger amounts of medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in reasonable quantities for your trip.”
This includes contact lens solution.
The caveat is that these must be prescribed, labelled and declared to security officers at the checkpoint for inspection.
Bringing Contact Lens Solution in Your Checked Bag
There are no restrictions if you want to pack contact solution in your checked bags.
So, this means that you can take however many bottles of solution you want in any size without running into any issues.
Domestic vs. International Flights
The TSA only has authority in the USA, so you might be wondering what the regulations are if you are traveling internationally.
Fortunately, regardless if you’re flying domestically in the USA or internationally, the same rules apply.
So, you are only allowed to bring contact lens solution in your carry on bag if it is in a container that is no larger than 3.4oz/100ml.
All airlines follow TSA regulations, which means that regardless if you’re flying with a regional or major air carrier, you can only bring contact lens solution on a plane in your carry on bags if the bottle does not exceed 3.4oz/100ml.
The same exceptions apply for medically necessary contact lens solution.
Avoid Putting Contact Solution in a Travel Bottle
While you can transfer contact solution from a larger bottle into a smaller, travel-friendly sized bottle to adhere to TSA regulations, it is not recommended.
This is because contact lens solution is sterile, so you may introduce contaminants as you transfer the solution, which would be very bad for your eyes.
No Need to Put Contact Lenses or Solution in Your Liquids Bag
According to the TSA, contact lens do not have to be placed in a quart-sized bag that is dedicated to liquids, gels, and aerosols.
Contact lens solution, however, should be place in your quart-sized bag.
The Type of Contact Lens Solution Doesn’t Matter
There are several types of contact lens solutions, including:
- Multipurpose contact lens solution
- Hydrogen peroxide-based contact lens solution
- Saline solution
Regardless of the type of contact lens solution you want to bring on a plane, the same rules apply.
This means that unless deemed medically necessary and appropriately labelled, you can only bring solution in containers that do no exceed 3.4oz/100ml in your carry on bag.
You Can Bring Contact Lenses on a Plane
If you pack your contact lenses in your checked bag and the bag gets lost, it can very quickly ruin your vacation.
Fortunately, according to the TSA, contact lenses are allowed in your carry on bags without any quantity limitations.
The Type of Contact Lenses Don’t Matter
There are several types of contact lenses, including:
- Soft contact lenses
- Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses
- Extended Wear Contact Lenses
- Disposable (Replacement Schedule) Contact Lenses
It makes no difference what kind of contact lenses you wear, you can bring in any quantity in both your carry on and checked bags without any restrictions.
Be Careful When Wearing Contact Lenses on the Flight
You can wear contact lenses on a plane, but it might not be the best idea.
This is because air inside the cabin is very dry and can cause dry eyes, which can make the lenses tighten in your eye and cause microscopic tears to the cornea.
You may also drift off to sleep, and if you’re wearing any contacts other than extended wear ones, this can damage your eyes.
If you do happen to fall asleep while wearing contacts, take them out as soon as possible to let your eyes breathe.
Avoid Wearing Colored Contact Lenses
If you’re planning on wearing colored contact lens, it might not be the best idea.
This is because you may be asked to remove your contact lens when airport security personnel compare how you look on your ID compared to how you look in person to see the real color of your eyes.
It might not happen often, especially if you otherwise look exactly the same in your ID – i.e. you haven’t grown or shaved a beard, have a drastically different haircut etc. – but it’s still a possibility.
How to Pack Contact Lenses for Flying
- Pack your contact lenses (as well as solution and glasses) in your carry on instead of your checked bag.
- If not possible, pack at least a supply of contact lenses for a week or two in your carry on, just in case your bag gets lost.
- Bring your prescription in case you need to purchase contact lenses abroad.
- Wear disposables on the plane, if you can.
- Don’t transfer solution into a smaller container due to sterility concerns.
Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.
Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.
Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).