- As COVID-19 continues to spread across the world, some doctors are suggesting people ditch their contact lenses until the pandemic is over.
- Evidence suggests the virus can enter the body through the eyes. Some ophthalmologists say that glasses can also serve as an additional protective barrier against the virus.
- Some doctors disagreed, saying the possibility of the virus entering the body through the eyes was rare.
- On April 11, the CDC released new guidelines saying there is no evidence that wearing contact lenses is risky.
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As the rate of coronavirus infections rises in the United States, some doctors are encouraging the 45 million Americans who wear contact lenses to put on their glasses instead. While the CDC says it’s safe to wear contact lenses as long as they’re cleaned regularly, the American Academy of Ophthalmology released a statement suggesting people use glasses instead of contact lenses. contact, just to be safe.
The group, a medical association of 32,000 ophthalmologists, has suggested contact lens wearers switch to glasses for a while, as the coronavirus can be contracted through the eyes, if you unwittingly have virus particles on your fingers.
These particles are more often inhaled through the mouth and nose, but they can also enter through the eyes, although the CDC says “this is not considered the primary way the virus spreads.” The eyes, nose, and mouth all have mucous membranes in places like the nose and throat, which allow viruses to enter the body. Once in the body, the virus begins to replicate, until it eventually floods the body with virus particles.
“Consider wearing glasses more often, especially if you tend to touch your eyes a lot when your contacts are indoors,” Dr. Sonal Tuli advised in the statement. “Replacing glasses with contact lenses can lessen irritation and force you to pause before touching your eye.”
She added that the glasses could provide an extra layer of protection against the virus.
An April 2019 study published in Contact Lens and Anterior Eye noted that good handwashing hygiene was especially crucial for people who wear contact lenses. According to the CDC, “Wearing contact lenses can increase your risk of getting an eye infection, especially if you don’t care for them properly.”
The CDC recommends always washing your hands with soap and water before handling lenses, keeping lenses away from water, which can let germs in, and cleaning lenses properly. And don’t overlook the contact lens case, which also requires cleaning.
Some experts believe the risk of contracting COVID-19 from touching your eyes is low
“Can you end up with COVID-19 because of the virus entering through the eye? Theoretically it’s possible, but we don’t have any proof of it,” Dr. Thomas Steinemann, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, told CNN.
Three of the world’s most published eye health researchers wrote in a Center for Ocular Research & Education advisory that wearing contact lenses is safe and encouraged people to disinfect their contact lenses.
“Despite the myths and misinformation that have arisen over the past 48 hours, contact lens wear remains a safe and highly effective form of vision correction for millions of people around the world,” they wrote.
But whether the organization is for or against wearing contact lenses, they have all agreed on some key guidelines people should follow, such as disinfecting glasses and contact lenses and avoiding rubbing their eyes. .
In the wake of reports that 1% to 3% of people with coronavirus also had conjunctivitis or pink eye, many national associations of ophthalmologists have issued guidelines asking ophthalmologists to postpone all non-essential eye appointments , because it’s impossible to socially distance yourself by looking into someone’s eyes.
“Already, a handful of our fellow ophthalmologists have died from COVID-19,” the statement read. “This is an existential crisis. As physicians, we must respond to it and support our colleagues and our communities.”