How can the coronavirus affect your eyes?
Coronavirus can spread through the eyes, just as it does through the mouth or nose. When someone who has coronavirus coughs, sneezes, or talks, virus particles can spray from their mouth or nose onto your face. You are likely to breathe these tiny droplets in through your mouth or nose. But the droplets can also enter your body through your eyes. You can also become infected by touching your eyes after touching something that has the virus on it.
It might be possible for coronavirus to cause a pink eye infection (conjunctivitis), but this is rare. If you have pink eye, don’t panic. Simply call Dr. Beeve office to let them know and follow their instructions for care. Keep in mind that whether pink eye is caused by a virus or bacteria, it can spread if someone touches that sticky or runny discharge from the eyes, or touches objects contaminated by the discharge. Wash and sanitize your hands frequently, and do not share towels, cups or utensils with others.
How to protect your eyes and health
Guarding your eyes — as well as your hands, nose, and mouth — can slow the spread of coronavirus. Here are some ways to you can keep your eyes safe and healthy during this coronavirus outbreak.
It’s important to remember that although there is a lot of concern about coronavirus, common sense precautions can significantly reduce your risk of getting infected. So wash your hands a lot, follow good contact lens hygiene and avoid touching or rubbing your nose, mouth and especially your eyes.
1. If you wear contact lenses, consider switching to glasses for a while.
There's no evidence that wearing contact lenses increases your risk of coronavirus infection. But contact lens wearers touch their eyes more than the average person. Consider wearing glasses more often, especially if you tend to touch your eyes a lot when your contacts are in. Substituting glasses for lenses can decrease irritation and force you to pause before touching your eye.
2. Wearing glasses may add a layer of protection.
Corrective lenses or sunglasses can shield your eyes from infected respiratory droplets. But keep in mind that they don’t provide 100% security. The virus can still reach your eyes from the exposed sides, tops and bottoms of your glasses. If you’re caring for a sick patient or potentially exposed person, safety goggles may offer a stronger defense.
3. Stock up on eye medicine prescriptions if you can.
Patients should stock up on critical medications, so that you'll have enough to get by if you are quarantined or if supplies become limited during an outbreak. But this may not be possible for everyone. If your insurance allows you to get more than 1 month of essential eye medicine, such as glaucoma drops, you should do so. Some insurers will approve a 3-month supply of medication in times of natural disaster. And as always, request a refill as soon as you're due. Don't wait until the last minute to contact your pharmacy.
4. Avoid rubbing your eyes.
It can be hard to break this natural habit, but doing so will lower your risk of infection. If you feel an urge to itch or rub your eye or even to adjust your glasses, use a tissue instead of your fingers. Dry eyes can lead to more rubbing, so consider adding moisturizing drops to your eye routine. If you must touch your eyes for any reason — even to administer eye medicine — wash your hands first with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Then wash them again after touching your eyes.
5. Practice safe hygiene and social distancing.
Wash your hands a lot. Follow good contact lens hygiene. And avoid touching or rubbing your nose, mouth and eyes.
If you have any questions about your eyes or your vision, be sure to ask Dr. Beeve.