Prepping with bad eyesight

I won the genetic lottery when I inherited absolutely terrible eyesight from my Dad’s side of the family.  I mean TERRIBLE.  Without my contacts or glasses, I couldn’t drive, couldn’t do just about anything that wasn’t 1 foot in front of my face.  

From a preparedness perspective, not being able to see because I lost / broke my glasses or ran out of contacts is kind of a big deal!

Wondering what others in the community with bad eyesight have done to ensure they aren’t stuck in a situation without the ability to see clearly?

Also from a get home / bug out bag perspective – what should I have in there for this?  An extra set of eyeglasses?  A backup pair of contacts & travel eye contact solution?  Potentially both?  I’m thinking what if a contact pops out while heading home on foot in a crisis?  What if I fall and break my back up glasses?

Should I just save up and get my vision “permanently” corrected as part of my preparedness strategy?  That’s kind of what I’m leading towards.


  • Comments (11)

    • 6

      Good afternoon LNMOt,

      I have extra RX glasses, both regular and sun, in sturdy cases. My personal philosophy is to keep them physically on me … in a cargo vest … and would never consider packing them in a bag.

      My view is to have extra glasses and NOT contacts.  Glasses are easy to put on and maintain. Contacts require a procedure and  extra maintenance. Remember, you’re “on foot in a crisis” and that summer overnight equipment trial hike was 6 months ago. It’s now cold with gloves on.  The kids could be with you.

      A principle of emergency management:  “Minimize detail”.

      Am not addressing the eye operation. You must spend time researching with more than 1 or 2 professional opinions.

    • 4


       I wear drug store glasses (with my Optometrists’ approval) – one pair for computer and reading and a second pair of a different strength for television. Because they aren’t as expensive, I can keep several additional pairs.

      If it were me, I would have a couple of extra pairs of eyeglasses as long as your prescription is stable. If you wear contacts, then also for that, but bear in mind a contact related infection may not be treatable in a disaster.

      I have a couple of eyeglass repair kits in my preps. They usually have the screwdriver in the kit to repair and fit the little screws in the glasses, but I keep a small separate screwdriver in my baggie with all the kits and spare glasses.

      I also have eye wash and antibiotic OTC eye drops in my first aid kit, but be sure to rotate any eye drops or eye medication items because they can be dangerous if used after the expiry date. My pharmacist educated me on that point. So I am really careful about rotating those items. I also mark the expiry date on the boxes in black permanent marker.

      My eyesight is not correctable until the cataract in my right eye gets to a certain point. The surgery to correct that will also fix my existing vision issue in my right eye. 

      It is another reason why I printed large font copies of certain really important information in case of disaster and created a list key for the first aid items in large font. For example, I wrote “1” on a box of bandages. The key says compression bandages in large font, so I would be able to read it without glasses on in an emergency. It’s not a perfect system but it could help. The list key is folded up and in a baggie inside the lide of my first aid kit.

      Something else I just thought of regarding eye sight. Anyone who wears eye make up and especially mascara needs to be really careful of getting bacterial infections from it.

      I always mark the date the mascara is opened and keep the box near my makeup supplies. I don’t wear make up every day because I’m not working, so I always smell the mascara to check if it has an off smell that can signal it is not fit to use.

      Another thing about mascara, never use saliva on the wand if it is drying out. Use clean water only if you must. Saliva can cause bacteria transfer from the mouth into the mascara.

      If TSHTF I imagine we’ll have bigger problems than worrying about make up, but it is still good to know about.

      Hope this helps. 

    • 5

      I had many of your same concerns. I was blind as a bat, totally reliant on glasses, and was scared of what I would do in an emergency situation. The solution I came up with was getting lasik eye surgery, like I talked about on this forum thread. I know that not everyone can do that though be it because of the cost or the eye doctor says they wouldn’t be a good candidate for it. So here are my tips for my fellow bats:

      • Keep all your old pairs of glasses. Put an old pair in your BOB and in your car. What if you were out and about and your glasses broke or were lost? Wouldn’t it be good to have an old pair in your car that you could grab and be able to get home with?
      • They have some daily contacts that are only supposed to be worn for a day and then thrown away. Maybe keep a pair of those in your desk at work or in your purse. 
      • I’ve heard there are some websites that offer pairs of glasses for like $15-$50. They are able to do this because they might not have the name brand frames and don’t have to pay the big corporations. 
      • 2

        Really great suggestions Robert.

        I have an old wire rim pair in my consol. It’s a little beat up looking but it will help in an emergency.

    • 2

      I am really surprised how often this is not discussed or mentioned in forums. It’s such an important part of people’s lives that maybe they just overlook it.

      Anyway, I prefer contacts when I am working at my office and living at home with access to clean running water and clean towels. When I am backpacking or camping, I usually opt for glasses. They have drawbacks, but keeping my hands clean enough to touch my eye when camping or backpacking is a concern.

    • 6

      It’s a good question & a valid concern. Here’s my (long) story: I had terrible vision, couldn’t see 6” from my nose, and was rightfully concerned about what would happen if glasses and contacts failed. Thankfully I was a good candidate for LASIK (extreme nearsightedness & some astigmatism) and had it done over 15 years ago. It was and is amazing. Full disclosure, my eyes are dry, which was one of the reasons I could no longer tolerate contacts then, and surgery can make that worse, so now I do use eye drops, and would likely have to make some saline/castor oil type in a long term disaster. Also, your eyes still age, so now I do need glasses for close up, like most people over 40. However, I have not needed distance lenses since, and my eyes, although they have lost some of the sharpness they had at first, have been very stable. My eye doctor recently reviewed my eye health and said that was absolutely the best choice for me, as my eyes had been so bad, and the surgery was such a success. Final word of advice, DO NOT bargain shop that surgery. I know several people that shopped price over experience/recommendations, and they did have problems, mostly related to vision not being corrected fully, or not remaining stable. They had gone to the bulk type clinics where it’s kind of a cattle call atmosphere. Good luck in your research & I hope you’re able to solve your concern successfully!

      • 1

        Good morning CR,

        EXCELLENT GUIDANCE !  Do not bargain shop for the surgery.

        The REAL comparison involves the results and professional quality care is not standardized.

      • 5

        Thanks Bob! I’m generally a cautious, thrifty soul, but eyes are so vital and delicate. The 3 people I personally know who went to the bargain shops (about $2k less than I spent I think) all needed follow up surgeries and were ultimately less than happy with the final result. It’s a costly, very personal choice, and one that should be made only with the best advice/care available. I vividly remember right after the surgery, lying on the couch, I looked into my back pasture & was able to follow the flight of the big dragonflies that were migrating through. It felt quite miraculous, and I’m very thankful I had it done. 

      • 3

        Good afternoon CR,

        Well received.

        Great news re the successful surgery.

        “Where there is no vision the people perish.”

      • 3

        Excellent comment CR. It’s like I wrote this because that’s my exact same situation. 

        The one downside to lasik are that my eyes are now drier than before. I have to use eye drops and a recent thing I found are heated eye shades. My optometrist recommended them to me, it looks like a normal sleep mask but has little grains of rice or wheat in the pouch. You heat it in the microwave for a few seconds and rest it on your eyes for 10 minutes. It warms up your oil glands in your eye lids releasing more oil and thinning it out. Helps a lot and lowers my reliance on eye drops.

        I too did not bargain shop for my eyes. I wanted the best of the best. I looked up which surgeon has been established the longest in my state, and I compared the amount of surgeries that they have done. I found a place that was very good, but was more expensive than others. Sure I could have gone to the one with a $250 per eye special that I heard on the radio, but I opted to paying $4000+ because I wanted someone who is VERY good at their job. I would have forever regretted it if I tried to save $100 and was now blind.

        Other fun fact: When they are lasering your eyes, it smells like burning hair.

      • 5

        Good tip on the eye mask, will try it, thanks, Robert! Yes, the procedure itself is a bit alarming, LOL. My husband settled happily in the next room with cookies and a video screen to watch, and he quickly lost both appetite and desire to watch!