Ophthalmologists see rise in hand sanitizer-related injuries during pandemic

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Local ophthalmologists have heard complaints from patients with eye strain during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some ophthalmologists are seeing other issues as well.

Dr. Michael Cusick is an ophthalmologist at UVA and said hand sanitizer-related injuries have increased during the pandemic, with the biggest concern being the younger population.

“Along with its increased use, we’ve seen a variety of situations where it makes its way into the eyes, especially in our younger population,” Cusick said.

The good news is that there is often no serious damage to the eyes if the hand sanitizer gets into them.

Cusick explains that it’s like putting shampoo in your eyes, you just need to rinse them with eye drops or saline solution.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has created four specific recommendations for avoiding hand sanitizer-related injuries.

The first is to avoid having dispensers at children’s eye level, so hand sanitizer doesn’t accidentally shoot them in the eye.

The second is to make sure the hand sanitizer is completely dry on your hands if you need to touch your face.

Doctors advise avoiding touching your face during the pandemic.

They advise keeping the nozzle of dispensers clear so the hand sanitizer doesn’t shoot in a direction you didn’t intend, and possibly into your eyes.

Finally, they advise using foam hand sanitizer when possible, as there is less risk of the sanitizer getting into the eyes than with a gel sanitizer.

Cusick also hopes people won’t lose sight of routine eye care practices during the pandemic, such as routine eye checks and using general eye protection when needed.

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