With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a lot has changed for us. The way we shop, way we spend our time and the way we work, everything has changed to ensure our safety and effectiveness. It is natural that during these times we want to be sure that we are not doing anything to increase our risk of contracting corona virus infection.
Swarna consulted with me over a video call. She has high myopia and wears contact lenses daily especially during her work hours to avoid wearing glasses with thick lenses. She does not feel confident especially in her work atmosphere with her thick glasses. Now due to the ongoing Corona virus lock down, she has switched to working from home. However, due to virtual meetings, she was still wearing contact lenses while carrying on with her work-related activities. She was comfortable until one day she read somewhere that wearing contact lenses can increase her risk of contracting the corona virus infection. She panicked and booked an online tele-consultation with me.
I can understand the concerns of people like Swarna. Overall instructions are to avoid touching your hands to your eyes, nose, or mouth. The basic reason for that is any kind of mucous membranes (membranes that line various cavities in the body) can allow the virus to enter the human body. I had earlier written about Can Corona virus affect our eyes?
Coming back to Swarna’s concerns. The simple answer to this is that there is no problem and she can continue wearing contact lenses. Contact lens wearing will not by itself increase the risk. Contact lens wearers touch their faces and eyes while wearing or removing contact lenses. So, contact lens wearers must always maintain excellent hygiene.
This is the basic list of do’s and don’ts while using contact lenses.
- Meticulous hand washing: It is imperative that contact lens wearers wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20-30 seconds and then dry it with clean tissue paper. This practice should be implemented prior to wearing contact lenses and before removing it from the eyes. Unclean hands should not be used to touch the face or the contact lenses.
- Contact lens hygiene: contact lenses should be meticulously cleaned and disinfected as advised by the eye doctor. The contact lens case also should be cleaned regularly, and contact lens solution in the case should be changed daily.
- Eye Irritation: any kind of eye irritation and eye dryness causes people to touch their eyes more frequently and often unconsciously. Now if you are one of those who continue to get the urge to touch the eyes due to your eye irritation then it is better to avoid wearing contact lenses. Preservative free lubricating eye drops can be used to soothe the eyes and reduce the eye dryness. If it does not help, then it is better to discontinue wearing contact lenses.
- Discontinue lenses if sick: if you are down with fever or cold or any form of eye redness and eye irritation, it is better to avoid wearing contact lenses. Let your body recover from these flu-like symptoms prior to resuming your contact lens wear.
On one hand wearing contact lenses with proper care is fine on the other hand wearing glasses will not protect you from getting the infection if you do not practice good hygiene. It is important that we develop hygienic practices, avoid touching our hands to our face or eyes, wear a face mask when we step out and eat healthy to reduce our chances of getting infected with the COVID-19 virus.