It is time to keep your contact lenses aside for a while and adorn your glasses to protect yourself from COVID-19. Experts at the American Academy of Opthalmology say that wearing glasses (both sunglasses and prescription eyeglasses) is helpful in preventing you from inadvertently touching your face. Since it has been established that the Novel Coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 can enter through one’s nose and mouth, experts also suggest people to protect their eyes from the virus by wearing glasses.
Can the Novel Coronavirus enter through the eye?
It is a possibility that the cough or sneeze droplets that contain the virus which causes COVID-19 can enter and spread through the eye. There are ongoing studies to find concrete evidence.
Why not contact lenses?
As per a general observation, people who wear contact lenses tend to touch their face and eyes more than those who do not. Additionally, they also have to bring their hands in close contact with their eyes while removing the contact lenses; usually twice a day.
Some people might not remember to wash their hands after touching a commonly touched surface. For example, touching a doorknob to enter the house, this unhygienic practice is a bigger problem if one removes the contact lenses after doing so.
While respiratory droplets such as saliva and mucous that are sprayed in the air through sneezing and coughing cause COVID-19 infection to spread, glasses offer more protection from any such infectious particles that might be in the air around a healthy individual.
What is a Pink Eye?
Among some of the COVID-19 patients, it has been seen that the Novel Coronavirus also caused a condition called Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye. When the outer transparent layer of the eyeball, conjunctiva, gets inflamed, it results in a highly infectious condition called conjunctivitis.
The layer conjunctiva is similar to the mucus membrane which is inside our nasal cavity and mouth. Conjunctiva is moist in nature and thus, can become an easy ground for the virus to replicate and spread. The contact lens rests on the same layer, conjunctiva, and therefore, is more prone to infection caused by the Novel Coronavirus.
A recent study conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology also concluded that the tears of COVID-19 patients did not carry the Novel Coronavirus. The subjects in this study did not have conjunctivitis and therefore, it is yet to be confirmed whether the infection can be spread through tears.
What are the symptoms of Conjunctivitis?
The inflammation of conjunctiva causes itching, burning, tearing, blurry vision and redness of the eye. During a conjunctivitis infection, a yellow discharge from the eyes dries up on the eyelashes during sleep causing the eyelids to stick. In China, a small percentage of the COVID-19 population also had Conjunctivitis when they reached hospitals for medical attention.
When comparing glasses with the contact lens, the former acts as a barrier from the Novel Coronavirus droplets from entering into the eye, up to an extent. This is the reason there are strict guidelines for health professionals treating COVID-19 patients to wear masks, face shields, goggles or any other form of protective gear to protect the eyes. Experts also recommend that those who wear glasses should wash them with soap and water regularly and follow good hygiene practices.
For more info on precautions against, & symptoms of the coronavirus; you can always talk to a doctor online.