Eye Health, Health & Wellness

Coronavirus and Contacts

Let’s talk about the easiest way to keep your eyes healthy during this pandemic. The American Academy of Ophthalmology came out with the recommendation that contact lens wearers should consider wearing their glasses for a while..

While not completely contraindicated, people should wear glasses as much as possible, especially when out in public, grocery shopping, essential trips, etc.  Novel coronavirus can spread through the eyes, just like it’s been documented to spread through the nose and mouth. Any time that you touch something that has the virus on it and then touch your eyes, you are risking infection.  Contact lens wearers touch their eyes a lot – inserting, removing and repositioning their contacts and all of those actions put the wearer at risk.

If you are quarantined at home and have no deliveries, then you could wear contact lenses without an increased risk.  Contact lenses don’t need to be discontinued completely, but err on the side of caution especially when out in public spaces and switch to glasses.  

Glasses do not protect you completely from coronavirus, however. Virus particles can still enter the eyes through the sides, bottom or top of the glasses. That’s why health care workers should wear a full face shield when caring for COVID-19 patients.  But, glasses are at least an additional layer of protection.

glasses selfie of rupa wong

If someone is dead set on wearing contacts right now, people need to remember to wash their hands for 20 seconds before and after they touch their eyes or lenses and to be cognizant of how much they are touching their eyes, eyelids, and face.  You’d be surprised how often people rub their eyes and contact lens wearers tend to have more dry eyes than non-contact lens wearers. Use lubricating drops when needed. And always wash your hands before and after administering drops. Clean and disinfect contacts as recommended by your eye doctor.  Also, make sure to dispose of contact lenses as recommended (throw out daily lenses every day, 2 week lenses at the end of 2 weeks etc). Do not try to stretch out contact lenses simply because you are in short supply.

Contact lens wearers are more at risk for infection of the cornea and conjunctiva due to the increased introduction of pathogens when they touch their eyes.  They have a higher risk of corneal infections and conjunctivitis (pink eye) due to bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. This is especially true if contact lens wearers do not practice good hygiene – such as sleeping in contacts, improper cleaning of lenses, not washing hands or extending the wear of their contacts past the recommended date.

So, for now, consider switching to glasses instead of contacts. There are so many contact lens related infections and injuries that can occur, that it would be best to keep your eyes healthy and you out of the emergency room.

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