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Why you need spare contact lenses and glasses

Woman holding her eyeglasses and looking off to the horizon.

No matter whether you’re lying on the sofa at home or hiking through the rainforest in Costa Rica, it’s not always easy to foresee trouble you might encounter. That’s why it's always good to have a backup pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses on hand. 

Here are a few scenarios in which backup glasses can come in handy:


Perhaps you broke your glasses by jumping on the sofa. Or maybe you fell on them during a game of tennis.

Since accidents can and will happen, it makes sense to buy a spare pair of glasses. That way, if something does go wrong, you can wear your extra glasses while you wait for a replacement pair.

Everyday activities

In some instances, backup glasses might not just be for emergencies. Instead, they might supplement your current eyewear.

The Eye Care Institute of Louisville, Kentucky, offers these examples:

  • A pair of reading glasses might be ideal for a wearer of multifocal lenses who is doing up-close work like crafting model aeroplanes or assembling a scrapbook.

  • A pair of computer glasses for the workplace could be more comfortable than your everyday glasses.

  • A pair of tough sports glasses might be a good substitute for your regular glasses when you’re participating in sports like football, basketball and tennis.


You’re heading to Aberdeen for a ski trip or you’re jetting off to France for a romantic getaway.

Aside from packing the standard clothes and toiletries, be sure to bring along backup glasses or contact lenses.

According to Passport Health, a provider of medical services for travellers, it’s always wise to have a backup (vision) plan when you’re away from home.

If you run into problems with your contact lenses — maybe you’ve contracted an eye infection or you left your contacts back in your bathroom at home — a backup pair of glasses can be a sight for sore eyes.

Likewise, taking along extra daily disposable contact lenses can help if, say, you wind up ripping any of your contacts.

As for glasses wearers, you never know when your spectacles might fall off and break — you could be on a river cruise, a winery tour or some other adventure. Having a backup pair can prevent your vacation from being ruined.

UnitedHealthcare Global, a provider of travel insurance, recommends that travellers take two pairs of glasses on trips: one to wear or store in a protective case in a carry-on bag and a second pair held in a protective case in a checked bag.

If you plan to be away from home for an extended period, particularly if you’ll be overseas, tuck a copy of your eyeglasses prescription and/or contact lens prescription into a carry-on bag. 

Passport Health points out that the numbers found on a prescription are universally recognized, so you’ll be able to order new glasses or contacts if something happens to the ones you brought.

Unexpected circumstances

Maybe you’re heading out on the town with your pals and end up staying out until 4 in the morning. Or perhaps you take an unplanned dip in your friend’s swimming pool. 

If it's possible you'll need to remove your contacts in a similar situation, carrying backup contacts and/or glasses is probably in your best interest.

Vision problems

Contact lenses provide freedom from glasses for nearsighted and farsighted people, but they can also be a pain if something is irritating your eyes.

If you're not sure how long you can wear your contacts, follow the RSVP rule from the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics and take them out if you experience:

  • Redness in one or both eyes.

  • Secretions like mucus from one or both eyes.

  • Vision changes, such as mild to moderate blurring.

  • Pain, including soreness and discomfort.

If you’re suffering any of these symptoms, remove your contact lenses immediately and make an appointment for an eye exam

As you wait to find out what’s wrong with your eyes, don’t wear contacts. Instead, rely on your backup glasses.

In some cases, allergies may be the cause of your watery, itchy or red eyes. In this scenario, refrain from wearing contacts and put on your backup glasses. It might just be a matter of allowing some time — and the allergies — to pass before you return to contact lenses.

If this is a routine bout with allergies, then you might be able to get by with over-the-counter medication and eye drops to relieve your symptoms. 

But, if you’re uncertain about whether the culprit is allergies, be sure to see your optician.

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