The novel coronavirus can enter your body through your eyes, in addition to your nose and mouth.
When someone who has SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) sneezes, coughs, or even talks, they spread droplets that contain the virus. You’re most likely to breathe in those droplets, but the virus can also enter your body through your eyes.
Another way you can contract the virus is if the virus lands on your hand or fingers, and you then touch your nose, mouth, or eyes. However, this is less common.
There are still many questions about what can and can’t increase your risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2. One question is whether it’s safe to wear contact lenses, or if this can increase your risk.
In this article, we’ll help answer this question and share advice on how to safely care for your eyes during the coronavirus pandemic.
There’s currently no evidence to prove that wearing contact lenses increases your risk of contracting the new coronavirus.
There is some evidence that you can get COVID-19 by touching a surface contaminated with SARS-CoV-2, and then touching your eyes without washing your hands.
If you wear contact lenses, you touch your eyes more than people who don’t wear them. This could raise your risk. But contaminated surfaces aren’t the main way SARS-CoV-2 spreads. And washing your hands thoroughly, especially after touching surfaces, can help keep you safe.
In addition, a hydrogen peroxide contact lens cleaning and disinfecting system can kill the new coronavirus. There hasn’t been enough research done yet to know if other cleaning solutions have the same effect.
There’s also no evidence that wearing regular eyeglasses protects you against contracting SARS-CoV-2.
The most important way to keep your eyes safe during the coronavirus pandemic is to practice good hygiene at all times when handling your contact lenses.
Eye hygiene tips
- Wash your hands regularly. Always wash your hands before touching your eyes, including when taking out or putting in your lenses.
- Disinfect your lenses when you take them out at the end of the day. Disinfect them again in the morning before putting them in.
- Use contact lens solution. Never use tap or bottled water or saliva to store your lenses.
- Use fresh solution to soak your contact lenses each day.
- Throw away disposable contact lenses after each wear.
- Don’t sleep in your contact lenses. Sleeping in your contact lenses greatly increases your risk of getting an eye infection.
- Clean your contact lens case regularly using contact lens solution, and replace your case every 3 months.
- Don’t wear your contacts if you start to feel sick. Use new lenses as well as a new case once you start wearing them again.
- Avoid rubbing or touching your eyes. If you need to rub your eyes, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly first.
- Consider using a hydrogen peroxide-based cleaning solution for the duration of the pandemic.
If you use prescription eye medications, consider stocking up on extra supplies, in case you need to self-isolate during the pandemic.
See your eye doctor for routine care and especially for emergencies. The doctor’s office will have you take extra precautions to keep both you and the doctor safe.
COVID-19 can affect your eyes. Although research is in its early stages,
One potential eye symptom of COVID-19 is a pink eye (conjunctivitis) infection. This is possible, but rare.
Research suggests that approximately 1.1 percent of people with COVID-19 develop pink eye. Most people who develop pink eye with COVID-19 have other serious symptoms.
Call your doctor if you have signs of pink eye, including:
Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe. Most people have mild to moderate symptoms. Others have no symptoms at all.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
Other symptoms include:
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor. You likely won’t need medical care, but you should tell your doctor about your symptoms. It’s also important to let your doctor know whether you’ve been in contact with anyone who has COVID-19.
Always call 911 if you have symptoms of a medical emergency, including:
- trouble breathing
- chest pain or pressure that doesn’t go away
- mental confusion
- a rapid pulse
- trouble staying awake
- blue lips, face, or nails
There’s no current evidence that suggests wearing contact lenses increases your risk of getting the virus that causes COVID-19.
However, practicing good hygiene and safe eye care is very important. This can help reduce your risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 and also protect you from any type of eye infection.
Wash your hands regularly, especially before touching your eyes, and make sure to keep your contact lenses clean. If you need eye care, don’t hesitate to call your doctor.