Coronavirus and Your Eyes

Protecting Your Eyes and Health

Guarding your eyes — as well as your hands,nose, and mouth — can slow the spread of coronavirus. Here are some ways you can keep your eyes safe and healthy during this coronavirus outbreak.

If you wear contact lenses, try switching to glasses for a while. Contact lens wearers touch their eyes more than the average person. 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 reduce eye irritation, and they may be a barrier that reminds you not to touch your eye. If you must wear contacts, be sure to clean and disinfect them exactly as your eye doctor recommends.

Wearing glasses may add a layer of protection. Corrective eyeglasses 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 open sides, tops and bottoms of your glasses. For better protection, you must use safety goggles if you’re caring for a sick patient or potentially exposed person. Stock up on eye medicine prescriptions if you can.

If your insurance allows you to get more than one month of necessary eye medicine (like glaucoma drops), you should. 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. As always, request a refill as soon as you are due. Don’t wait until the last minute to contact your pharmacy.

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.

Get more information about eye health from EyeSmart—provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology—at aao.org/eyesmart.

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