Your eyes are one of the entryways the COVID-19 virus can use to gain access to your cells. According to a February 6 article in the medical journal The Lancet it works like this—infectious viral droplets can enter the body through the eyes in two ways. One way is when a person close to you who is infected with COVID-19 coughs spreading viral particles that land on the surface of your eyes, and the other way is by touching your eyes after your hands have come in contact with a COVID-19 contaminated surface, such as a table or a door handle.

If you use contact lenses to correct your vision, consider switching to glasses during this COVID-19 outbreak as one of the many precautions you can take against contracting the virus.  

Stop Eye-Hand Contact

Contact lens wearers touch their eyes at least twice a day when they put in and then take out their contact lenses. Switching to glasses eliminates that twice-daily eye-hand contact and in addition. glasses act as a safety shield. 

Eyeglasses are not as protective as safety eye goggles that cover the tops, sides, and bottoms of your eyes, so no viral particles have access to the surface of your eyes, but eyeglasses do shield the front of your eyes. 

Keep your eyeglasses clean by washing them with soap and water daily.

Reports from around the world show that about 1% to 3% of people with COVID-19 also had conjunctivitis. This news caused several national eye organizations, including the American Academy of Ophthalmology, to issue a recommendation that all ophthalmologists cease providing any treatment other than urgent or emergent eye conditions in order to help contain the spread of the virus.

Contact Lens COVID-19 Safety

If you continue to wear contacts or have to wear medically necessary contact lenses, follow these safety recommendations:

  • Handwashing: Use soap and water and dry your hands with a clean towel before inserting or removing your contact lenses. Do not use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer because handling your contacts after using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer means that traces of alcohol can be transferred to the lenses and then placing those lenses onto your eyes can cause your eyes to sting and burn.
  • Follow the lens replacement schedule: Contact lenses have an FDA-approved time frame for use, such as daily, two weeks, or monthly.  
  • Do not sleep in contact lenses: Sleeping with contact lenses on increases the risk of developing an eye infection.
  • Disinfect lenses with the disinfectant prescribed by your eye doctor: Discard the disinfectant solution after one use. Rub lenses with contact lens solution to remove debris from the lenses before disinfecting them. Do this even if the solution says it is “no rub.” Saline is not a disinfectant.
  • Don’t use water: Tap water contains many microorganisms that have the potential to cause eye infections.  Your contact lenses should never come in contact with water.