How to protect your eyes and health during COVID-19

Adapted from American Academy of Ophthalmology

For information purposes only

Picture from Covid-19-Personal Protective Equipment ppe and Eye Protection Guidance

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,” says ophthalmologist Sonal Tuli, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

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, Dr. Tuli points out. “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,” she advises. If you continue wearing contact lenses, follow these hygiene tips.

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.
Experts advise patients to 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. Ask your pharmacist or ophthalmologist for help if you have trouble getting approval from your insurance company. 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.

Wear a mask. Wash your hands a lot, scrubbing them with soap for at least 20 seconds. 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 your ophthalmologist.