Can you bring contact lens solution on a plane and through the TSA? (+ Tips)

For those in need, it’s hard to think of a more essential travel accessory than contact lenses.

Unfortunately, getting contact lenses through TSA security isn’t always as straightforward as you’d like.

Below I’ll give you some tips on how to get your contact lenses and solution through airport security as hand luggage and also give you some tips for traveling with them in general.

Can you bring contact lens solution on a plane and through the TSA?

Yes, you can bring contact lens solution on a plane and through the TSA in your carry-on or checked baggage.

When bringing contact lens solution in your carry-on, you’ll need to consider the TSA liquid rule and its medical exception (discussed below).

But you should also be careful with certain types of solutions, such as those containing hydrogen peroxide, as these can be more problematic.

Keep reading below to find out how to potentially avoid problems.

Picture via Amazon.

When you bring your contacts and solution in your carry-on, you will need to pass them through TSA airport security.

And that means dealing with the TSA liquids rule.

The TSA Liquids 3-1-1 rule states that you can only bring liquids in containers no larger than 3.4 fluid ounces (100 milliliters) and that all of your containers of liquids must fit “comfortably” in a clear bag of the size of a liter.

Many suppliers sell contact solution bottles under 3.4 fluid ounces, so it is entirely possible to find a container under these size limits.

However, sometimes you may not be able to find a solution container under 3.4 ounces. For example, you may be using a special type of contact solution recommended by your eye doctor that is harder to find in travel sizes.

Well, there is still good news for you.

TSA allows you to bring liquids over 3.4 ounces if they are medically necessary.

They specifically state, “The TSA allows larger amounts of medically necessary liquids, gels, and aerosols in reasonable quantities for your trip, but you must declare them to security at the checkpoint for inspection.”

In theory, any contact solution should be medically necessary, but that determination could be up to the TSA agent at the screening station.

So that means you can bring contact solution in containers larger than 3.4 fluid ounces, but some discretion will be involved.

The problem with bringing an oversized container of liquid for medical purposes is that it should be a reasonable amount for your trip and you must report it to the TSA agents.

A “reasonable amount” will depend on the circumstances, but generally an oversized bottle should be reasonable for your average trip of a few days or even a few weeks.

You’ll probably only run into quantity issues if you have multiple oversized bottles or had an inexplicably large container.

The TSA also mentions that you must declare your liquids medically necessary.

An easy way to do this would be to place your oversized contact solution container in a clear plastic bag, and when you are about to go through security, simply tell the officer that you have a medically necessary contact solution container. .

In most cases, you will also need to remove your plastic bag with your solution container and place it in its own tray, as you normally do with your bag of liquids.

You might not have to if you have something like TSA Pre-Check, but you should always be prepared to quickly retrieve an oversized container of liquid and explain why you’re bringing it with you.

One important thing to note: it’s not hard to find reports of TSA agents sometimes giving people trouble when they bring large bottles of contact solution.

For this reason, I would like save screenshot below which comes from the official TSA Twitter account where they clearly state that oversized contact solution bottles are allowed.

TSA Twitter account explaining contact solution medical exception

Another thing to be prepared for when providing a contact solution through TSA is additional screening.

Often, anytime you bring in a container of liquid over 3.4 ounces, TSA agents will want to examine it closely to make sure it doesn’t trigger their explosives tests.

Some types of solution bottles might be considered more dangerous than others. For example, contact lens solutions containing hydrogen peroxide (usually the type with a red cap like Clear Care) might attract more attention.

There are many reports TSA agents confiscating this type of contact solution when it does not pass the explosives test during an additional check.

For this reason, I would only attempt to transport hydrogen peroxide contact solution through TSA security if it is in a container that is less than 3.4 fluid ounces.

This way, you can reduce the chances of having your solution tested.

But even then, be aware that some people report that their containers have been confiscated even when the container is less than 3.4 ounces! (Reportedly some TSA agents confiscate these bottles whenever they see a red cap on them.)

So at the end of the day, it will probably come down to your bottle of solution: 1) having a red cap on it or 2) testing positive for some chemical not allowed to pass the checkpoint.

If the answer is yes to any of them, you may have difficulty getting your container through TSA security.

Contact case for contact solution bottle

Bring contacts and a solution in your checked baggage

If you choose to bring your contacts in your checked baggage, you can skip the liquid screening process altogether for your contact solution.

In this case, the 3.4 fluid ounce limit will not apply.

For people with contact solution containing hydrogen peroxide, putting it in their checked bag is often the best option.

But you may still need to think about some things.

Firstly, your baggage can always be delayed or lost, so you should never put anything in your checked baggage that you cannot live without.

For many people, they can’t live without corrective lenses and their contact solution, so I would only put these items in your checked baggage if you also have them in your carry-on.

If your contact solution won’t be allowed in your carry-on (due to something like 3% hydrogen peroxide), you’re kind of out of luck in this scenario, which is a real shame. You could be forced to risk doing without this solution in the event of loss of your checked baggage.

contact case

Travel advice for your contacts and solution

Prevent leaks

As you go up in altitude, the air expands inside your containers.

If you’ve ever flown with a bag of chips, you’ve probably noticed how much the bag expands once you get over 30,000 feet. It’s a bit crazy.

Well, the same kind of thing can happen with the air inside your contact solution bottle. This can cause leaks, so it’s a good idea to put your contact solution containers inside a plastic bag.

It can also help to get the air out of your solution bottle before you start to rise so there’s more room for the air to expand.

Switch to daily contacts

You can still temporarily switch to Daily Contacts when traveling.

This will allow you to completely avoid using contact solution and having to worry about cleaning your contact cases.

Traveling with reinforcements

When traveling, it’s a good idea to bring backup contacts in case your contacts are lost or damaged. I usually always keep a spare pair in my toiletry bag and a pair in my backpack.

If you already use daily contacts, be sure to bring several extra on your trip, because you never know when you might need more.

Bring your glasses

If you have glasses, make sure you always bring them with you, even if you rarely wear them.

When traveling to new destinations, flying, etc. it is not uncommon for your eyes to get irritated and putting contacts on irritated eyes is often a bad idea.

So I would always try to have a pair of glasses with you, even if you don’t wear them regularly.

Avoid transferring your solution to another container

Some people might consider moving their contact solution into a smaller container so they can get through TSA security more easily.

For example, you might want to pour your solution into a small TSA-approved liquid container.

The problem with this is that you could contaminate your solution, which could increase your chances of getting infected. Therefore, I advise against doing so.

Last word

You should have no problem bringing a travel-size container of normal contact solution through airport security.

But even if your container is larger than 3.4 ounces, you can still get it through thanks to the TSA medical exemption that allows you to carry larger containers in reasonable quantities.

However, if you have a red-tipped contact solution that contains hydrogen peroxide, there is a long list of TSA agents who confiscate them when they don’t pass the explosives test.

So I would probably try to only carry them if they were in a container under 3.4 ounces or if you put them in your checked bag.

About Marion Alexander

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