10 Tips on Eyes, Contact Lenses, and Protection from Coronavirus
COVID-19 has affected many aspects of our daily lives, so it should hardly be a surprise that eyecare has been affected as well. In this post, we will take a look at ten tips that you can use to ensure safe contact lens wear—amid this pandemic.
Wash hands thoroughly when handling contact lenses
“Wash your hands.” “Don’t touch your face.” “Don’t touch your eyes.” These three common refrains have become inescapable during COVID-19, and for good reason. Touching the face, nose, mouth, or eyes after touching a contaminated surface, increases your risk of contracting a virus or spreading it to someone else. For individuals who wear contact lenses, this situation poses a challenge, as there is no way to insert, remove, or adjust contacts without touching the face and eyes. To minimize risk, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly (for at least 20 seconds) with soap and water—as well as drying your hands on a clean, unused paper towel—before you insert or remove contact lenses. Make sure to wash your hands once more afterwards!
Carry hand sanitizer
If you need to insert, remove, or adjust a contact lens and soap and water are not readily available, the American Optometric Association recommends using hand sanitizer with an alcohol percentage of at least 60 percent.
Clean and disinfect lenses nightly
Your hands aren’t the only things that germs can contaminate. In any situation, disinfecting your contact lenses every night is vital to reduce the risk of eye infection. This best practice hasn’t changed during the pandemic. To avoid this step, you can ask your eye care practitioner about changing to a daily disposable lens. This decreases the risk of infection and the need for contact lens disinfection can be totally skipped.
Use fresh solution, always
When disinfecting or storing your contact lenses, make sure to use fresh solution. Do not top-up old or used solution with fresh solution. Instead, discard the old solution and use only fresh solution when placing your lenses in their case.
Replace lens cases every month
Depending on the lens cases you are using, you will want to replace them completely every month to ensure optimal hygiene.
Replace multi-use saline solutions frequently
You should also get in the habit of replacing your solution regularly. Multi-use, preservative-free saline bottles should be replaced every two weeks—if not sooner. Single-dose preservative-free saline units should be used or discarded within 24 hours of opening.
Sanitize lens plungers
If you use a lens plunger to apply or remove lenses, make sure you sanitize the plunger thoroughly after every use. You should make sure that there is no residual liquid in the plunger after each use, dry it carefully, and then wipe it down with an alcohol pad to sanitize. You can then leave the plunger to air dry in a safe, hygienic area.
Cease use of lenses if you experience COVID-19 symptoms
The American Optometric Association typically recommends that individuals cease contact lens wear if they experience cold or flu-like symptoms. Illnesses can disrupt natural tear production and mucus buildup in and around the eyes. These factors can affect how comfortable it is to wear lenses and even how effective your lenses are. If you are experiencing illness-related dry eyes and attempt to wear contact lenses, as usual, you may increase your risk of scratching the cornea or damaging the eye. It is always best to wait until you feel well again to resume lens wear. Plus, skipping the lenses, for now, means less touching of the face and less potential of spreading the virus with contaminated hands.
Don’t rely on eyeglasses for protection
Because viral particles from COVID-19 can supposedly spread not just through the nose and mouth but also the eyes, you might feel the urge to trade out your contact lenses for glasses—especially when in public. However, there is no evidence at this point that wearing eyeglasses provides any significant level of protection against viral infection. If you usually wear contact lenses, don’t switch to glasses just because you think they might act as a better barrier against COVID-19.
Call your eye doctor with any questions or concerns
Throughout the pandemic, it has become more common for individuals to skip or delay healthcare visits—be they checkups with the doctor, surgeries, dental cleanings, or eye exams. Rest assured that, at Weston Contact Lens Institute, we are doing everything we can to keep our offices sterile and our patients safe. If you have any questions about contact lens wear or eye health in general, we are always here to help.