Coronavirus Pandemic: Maintain Eye Health
A virus that has gripped the world with panic, seen countless countries close their borders, millions of people practicing self-isolation and finally led to the World Health Organisation declaring a global pandemic... The year is off to a difficult start with the outbreak of coronavirus, and we wish to help educate you on how to maintain good eye health during this crisis. Read on to learn more about coronavirus and our top tips for practicing good eye hygiene during this period.
What is a coronavirus?
Firstly, the current outbreak is known as COVID-19, and actually it’s just one of many viruses that are part of the coronaviruses family. Ever heard of MERS and SARS? They’re part of the same collection of viruses. They work by causing respiratory infections in animals and humans.
What is COVID-19?
According to the WHO, ‘COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus’. The outbreak came from animals and began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It has since quickly spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
It’s important to remember that not everyone who gets infected with COVID-19 will actually show symptoms or feel unwell at all. However, fever, tiredness, and a dry cough are the most common signs that someone is experiencing the illness. Aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, a sore throat or diarrhea have also been seen in some patients and often present themselves gradually. The WHO has declared that ‘1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing’ and will require medical intervention.
How does coronavirus spread?
COVID-19 has shown itself to be highly contagious and spreads from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth when someone with the virus coughs or exhales. If you touch objects that have the infected droplets on their surface, and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you could catch the virus. Similarly, if you breathe in the infected droplets when someone with COVID-19 breathes or coughs, you could also become ill. It is highly recommended to keep a 2 metre distance from someone infected with the virus to stop it spreading.
Can coronavirus spread through the eyes?
Given this is a new virus, the experts are still learning about all the ways it spreads. It could spread if you touch an object that carries the COVID-19 virus and then touch your eyes, however, it’s not believed to be the main way to catch it. It is highly recommended to avoid touching your face and rubbing your eyes. If you need to touch your face, or fix your glasses, then try using a tissue to act as a barrier between your fingers and your body.
Should I wear goggles to prevent coronavirus?
Our in-house expert optometrist Barry Meyerson advises, “the main thing you should do is avoid touching your face and rubbing your eyes. There is no current evidence that suggests glasses or goggles can prevent coronavirus infection”.
How to clean contact lenses thoroughly?
It’s important to practice good eye hygiene regardless of whether there is a pandemic or not. But we implore you to take extra care during this time. Our optometrist Barry Meyerson tells us, “The most important thing is to wash your hands thoroughly before handling your contact lenses. So that goes for when you’re about to insert or remove them.” Meyerson advises using a ‘rub and rinse’ method to clean your lenses whereby you place a contact lens in your palm and rub it with a disinfectant cleanser using the fingers of the other hand. Alternatively to get the best results Barry Meyerson recommends using a peroxide cleaning system, such as AOSEPT. “Another important thing to remember is to clean your lens cases, as they can become contaminated”, Meyerson reminds us. You can use boiling hot water or a sterile solution to keep the case clean and prevent infection, however it is recommended that you replace used contact lens cases every few months. Meyerson also suggests that the most hygenic type of contact lens is the daily disposable.
Best eyeglasses hygiene to prevent infection?
It is believed that COVID-19 infection can spread from touching infected surfaces or objects, so it’s important to regularly disinfect your glasses. If you are frequently putting on and taking off glasses during the day, you’re also touching your face numerous times and potentially increasing your risk of spreading the virus. You can start using a hand sanitiser before touching your glasses to ensure your hands are clean as well as regularly cleaning the glasses themselves. Take a look at our in-depth article on how to thoroughly clean your glasses here.
Avoid rubbing your eyes
Reduce your risk of coronavirus infection by fighting the urge to touch your face or rub your eyes. If you suffer from dry eyes and tend to touch your eyes throughout the day, try applying moisturising drops in the morning. Remember that if you have to touch your face for any reason, you should thoroughly wash your hands before for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap.
Are contact lenses and glasses safe to wear during the pandemic?
Rest assured, you can continue to safely use contact lenses and glasses to correct your vision during this period. As our optometrist Barry Meyerson reminds us once again, “the most important thing to do is wash your hands properly and regularly”.