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Trekking with eyesight: Contact Lenses or Glasses on treks?


There are two kinds of people: one, who love their power glasses for their style statement, and others who thoroughly hate them for they come with an awful lot of precautions, are slippery and can break easily. 

Taking them on treks might mean that you end up saving them instead of them saving you! So, what is the alternative?—Contact lenses?—but they too have their set of pros and cons. 

Today we thought of giving this problem thought and bringing out our collective wisdom and experience of trekking with eyesight

So, what should you wear—Contact Lenses or Glasses on treks

Glasses are Facile, but not amicable

Courtesy: Nick Hillier on Unsplash


Glasses are easy to wear. 

These are cheaper than contact lenses.

Offer better protection against wind, dirt and grime.

These are low-maintenance. You just have to clean them from time to time and keep them in a box for safety. 

Also Read: How to wear sunglasses with spectacles? 


They can easily break. While jumping on rocks and crossing streams, you might lose your glasses. You also don't want to compromise your vision while hiking or taking a shower in a waterfall, etc. The sad truth is that you cannot in any way carry these to some places.

Fog is a big problem with glasses. I have observed that steam fogs up my glasses when there is a sudden change of weather. And mountains are notorious for changing weather. Especially during or after the rain, you have to be careful.

They are the worst in the rain. While the droplets sit restlessly on the glasses, the refractive index is shifted. This again compromises vision.

They slip and grease easily in the rain or sweaty conditions. You will not be able to wear them since they will keep coming off. 

Contact lenses offer better vision but are pretty demanding. 

Courtesy: Lensabl on Unsplash


They correct your vision without changing your appearance.

They offer better vision. 

Fog does not accumulate on contact lenses.

Once worn, they will last for upto 10 hours. 

Wearing lenses with sunglasses is like wearing sunglasses on a normal eye. 

Also Read: How to Choose High Altitude UV Protected Sunglasses?


Putting them on is a pain in itself. For beginners, wearing contact lenses is a task. We have experienced teary eyes, lens falling off ten times and lens getting dirty because of this. Then, the setup is of the mirror, lens solution is required on the side. Hence, practice wearing them and get acquainted with them.

You can quickly lose them - they may tear off, fall off, get lost.

Contact lenses can only be worn for upto 8 to 10 hours. This allows the eyes to breathe and rest.

According to Mayoclinic: Bacteria, fungi or parasites — particularly the microscopic parasite acanthamoeba — may inhabit the surface of a contact lens or contact lens carrying case. The cornea may become contaminated when the lens is in your eye, resulting in infectious keratitis. Over-wearing your contact lenses can cause keratitis, which can become infectious.

Dry Eye Syndrome. This occurs when your eye is not able to produce tears/fluid properly. Cheaper lenses may cut the whole oxygen supply to the eye. Dry eye syndrome occurs with more than half of the population that wears contact lenses. 

On high altitudes, with improper hygiene, you might get eye infections like conjunctivitis. Contact lenses do not provide the same protection as glasses. Your eyes are much more exposed to dirt and other microbes because of which chances of infections increase.

The solution tends to freeze in colder seasons. Trekkers can keep the solution in their sleeping blankets or in pockets to keep it from freezing. It will remain in the liquid because of body heat.

They might come out if you wash your face due to rubbing etc. And the worst part is, you will not even know until you see the atmosphere nearby. When things become hazy, your brain will signal that something worse has occurred

Tips to carrying contact lenses and storing them properly:

Courtesy: Harpreet Singh on Unsplash
  • To maintain proper hygiene, carry extra cleaning solutions and wash your lenses from time to time. Even if you exhaust the solution, there is a remedyboil saltwater and cool it down. This water is free from germs and can be used as a cleaning solution for lenses.  
  • On treks, there can be a shortage of water and proper equipment. Don't use sanitiser to clean your hands. Instead, wash your hands with soap and water and then clean your lenses. The alcohol-based sanitiser will cause a burning sensation in your eyes. Plus, they will not clear the dirt from your hands.
  • Carry extra glasses and lenses.
  • Carry eye drops to treat dry eye syndrome and avoid dryness of the eyes.
  • If possible, use disposable lenses instead of reusable ones.
  • At high altitudes, keep the lens solution near your body to prevent it from freezing.
  • You should never even by mistake sleep with contact lenses on.

  • Final Word: This tug of war between contact lenses or glasses on treks will stay alive. But one rule of thumb is to prefer glasses if your power is upto -2.00. Even if the lenses break, you will conveniently do the trek. Others should choose contact lenses because they will not break. Even during a harsh climate, you will not have to keep shifting them from here to there.

    Shoot any other doubt in the comments. We are answering all your queries.

About the author

I am Supriya, a writer by passion and I have been following up with it from the past 12 years. Stamped initially as a Software Engineer, I switched to ‘All Things Travel’. I travel to find coherence in life and love stories. Admittingly craving local food, meandering through the alleys, and treasuring talks with elderlies, I prefer backpacking to connect with the roots of a place. Bylines include Tripoto, Plan the Unplanned, Women’s Web and Rough Guides. Know her better: supriyasahu.com
6 Responses
  1. Hey Gauri,
    Awesome! We are good to hear that you have decided to explore Leh. You can simply go with the combination you use, i.e, contact lenses + sunglasses. In fact, if you have time, get your sunglasses customised according to your number.

  2. Gauri Agrawal

    I am travelling to Leh this May.
    I have a high power for which I use glasses and contact lenses.
    I need to know if I can use contact lenses along with sunglasses in Leh and Ladakh or shall I get a new pair of photochromic glasses?

  3. Rahul Sethi

    I have never used contact lens, was going to purchase just for this very long trek I’m going. I hate when my glasses become foggy on a trek/hike, I miss the beautiful views. Thank you for this article.

  4. Tex Hooper

    I like what you said about using disposable lenses. I always lose my glasses and need a backup. I’ll have to consider getting a prescription from an optometrist.

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