How to Avoid Contracting and Spreading the COVID-19 virus through the Eyes
With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) being declared a pandemic, health officials are looking for ways to prevent it’s spread including school closures and businesses shutting down. The best way to handle this health crisis it to take precautionary measures and receive up to date information to avoid getting COVID-19 and to protect you and your family. When it comes to the eyes, especially if you wear contact lenses you may want to read this. There is a link between the eyes and the spread of the virus. Read on to learn more.
The reason why COVID-19 is relevant to eyes is because the virus can be spread this way.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) the virus can spread through:
- Droplets or virus particles entering the eyes when a sick person coughs or talks
- Tears- People infected with the Coronavirus can spread the illness through their tears. Touching tears or a surface where tears have landed can lead to infection.
- Rubbing or touching your eyes- If you touch an infected surface such as a doorknob and then touch your eyes, you can also be infected. Those with dry eye and contact lens wearers may be at risk since they touch their eyes more often.
How do I avoid catching COVID-19 this way?
To avoid transmission through the eyes the AAO recommends:
- Avoid wearing contacts for a while- break out the glasses and take a break from contacts for a while
- Stock up on contact lens solution- if you do decide to wear contact lenses, you’ll be cleaning your contact lenses more often and will need to have extra solution on hand.
- Consider Disposable Lenses-wearing lenses once and disposing of them may reduce risk.
- Wear eyeglasses-not only will it prevent you touching your eyes it may act as a shield from germs entering the eye.
- Practise proper cleaning of lenses- Be extra diligent with hygiene, especially when it comes to sterilizing contact lenses. According to a CDC report, 97 percent of those who contract eye infections did so as a result of poor sanitary practises which is why they aren’t recommended while swimming. For more on that visit: Keeping your sight safe while seeing the sights.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes and wash your hands before touching your eyes or inserting contact lenses. If you have dry eyes you can consider drops but not if the bottle touches your eyes-then it can increase infection risk.
- Stock up on eye prescriptions- Glaucoma drops are imperative to maintain eye health. Having a three-month supply on hand in the event that you aren’t able to get out is a good idea.
What are some other precautionary measures I can take to avoid catching the Coronavirus?
Stocking up on toilet paper might give you peace of mind but it really won’t do much to help you avoid contracting COVID-19. The CDC urges the following measures be taken:
- Avoid close contact with people and avoid crowds
Try to maintain a distance of 6 feet away from people if possible. The virus is spread through hand to hand contact, but if an infected person coughs or sneezes while you are standing nearby, you are still at risk.
- Stay home if you are ill
To ensure the safety and well-being of others if you’re feeling unwell, stay home. This is recommended by the CDC during cold and flu season anyways. Listen, this is the age of Netflix, working from home, and online shopping. At least there are resources.
- Change the way you greet others
Many cultures have greetings that don’t involve a hand shake- such as a bow. During this time, we can adopt new greetings that don’t involve hand to hand contact. Consider an elbow bump, or a friendly wave. A smile always goes a long way as well.
- Wash your hands
Mom said if first and as usual Mom knows best. Though some people are taking advantage and buying up all the hand sanitizer in sight, good old soap and water actually work the best to rid yourself of germs. Proper handwashing techniques are outlined by the CDC here. Hand sanitizer is a good option if you are unable to wash your hands. Wash after touching surfaces in public or hand to hand contact and avoid touching your face (mouth, eyes, nose) with unwashed hands. Always wash your hands before handling your contact lenses or as stated above consider wearing glasses.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces
Our offices have taken extra sanitary precautions during this time as outlined by the CDC. They urge the public to do the same at home. Clean frequently used surfaces daily. These include: keyboards, cellphones, tablets, remotes, light switches, toys, sink taps or faucets and eyeglasses.
What cleaners kill COVID-19?
Some cleaners such as bleach work better than others. Here is a list of cleaning materials that the EPA suggests are effective against SARS (related to COVID-19) and how to use them.
When should I self-isolate? Do I have to stay home?
According to Public Health there is a difference between advice to self-isolate and advice to self-monitor.
They recommend you should self-isolate if:
- You have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- Local public health has identified you as a close contact of someone diagnosed with COVID-19
- If you have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 or identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, you may be asked to self-monitor.
Self monitor means:
Monitor yourself for symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing.
What should I do if I develop symptoms of COVID-19?
- Stay home
- Limit contact with others
- Contact local public health, and follow their instructions
If you have any questions about your eye health please contact us. We urge our patients not to panic and to seek high-quality information about COVID-19 from reliable sources. The Public Health Agency of Canada is a reliable source of information, as are provincial and territorial public health authorities.