"Consider wearing glasses more often"
Advice from doctors has emerged that those people wearing contact lenses need to switch to wearing their glasses to avoid coronavirus getting transmitted through their eyes.
There are suggestions in some reports that COVID-19 can cause a form of viral pink eye, red-eye or conjunctivitis, which even in a mild form is not distinguished from other forms of eye infection.
Hence, it is natural that people will be touching their eyes more on average from changing contact lenses in the morning to removing them at night.
Dr Sonal S. Tuli from the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that switching from lenses to glasses during the global coronavirus pandemic will be a good practice to adopt.
Dr Tuli said:
“Consider wearing glasses more often, especially if you tend to touch your eyes a lot when your contacts are in.
“Substituting glasses for lenses can decrease irritation and force you to pause before touching your eye.”
Therefore, this would reduce the prospect of any contaminated fingers touching the eyes.
Dr Kirby Redman who is an optometrist in Wisconsin says that “the smart thing to do is just avoid wearing contacts” when possible. He added:
“The reason I say that is if you get conjunctivitis from either bacterial or other viruses, which would be much more likely, and you come in with a red eye, that is going to raise concern.”
University of Maryland’s emergency health services professor, Lucy Wilson, told the Huffington Post that glasses provide a “barrier protection against splashes or droplets” that can carry the COVID-19.
“Mucous membranes, including in the eye area, are a common way the coronavirus can enter the body.”
Therefore, by wearing glasses or sunglasses it may be a more effective way to avoid infected respiratory droplets in the air to enter your eyes.
One of the best defences against COVID-19 spreading is to frequently wash hands with soap and warm water and to avoid touching your face. However, contact lens wearers need to touch their eyes as well.
Hence, wearing glasses can reduce this type of required contact.
Avoid rubbing your eyes is the advice from medical experts, saying: “If you feel an urge to itch or rub your eye or even to adjust your glasses, use a tissue instead of your fingers.”
Although not frequently reported, doctors have reported some patients admitted into hospital with COVID-19 have had red-eye and conjunctivitis as part of their other symptoms.
One care home nurse reported red-eye as one of the COVID-19 symptoms that she came across in patients under her care.
An update posted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology highlights possible links of conjunctivitis with COVID-19 saying:
“Patients who present to ophthalmologists for conjunctivitis who also have fever and respiratory symptoms including cough and shortness of breath, and who have recently traveled internationally, particularly to areas with known outbreaks (China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, or to hotspots within the United States), or with family members recently back from one of these areas, could represent cases of COVID-19.”
If you do decide to continue wearing contact lenses, you are urged to follow correct guidelines, Dr Tuli says:
“It’s important to remember that although there is a lot of concern about coronavirus, common sense precautions can significantly reduce your risk of getting infected.
“So wash your hands a lot, follow good contact lens hygiene and avoid touching or rubbing your nose, mouth and especially your eyes.”
If you do swap over to glasses, then the advice is to avoid touching your eyes and direct contact with your glasses. Instead, use a tissue to adjust your glasses.