Is it true that wearing contact lenses increases your chances of contracting COVID-19?

1 year ago

After being exposed to an asymptomatic patient, a Chinese ophthalmologist became one of the first victims of COVID-19. This raised the possibility of the virus being present in the eye and being transmitted through tears. Some groups were quick to publish warnings about the dangers of wearing contact lenses during a pandemic.

However, these beliefs must be qualified by the evidence that has since been distributed. Based on the most recent scientific advancements, it is now possible to correctly counsel lens wearers.

Observe hygienic precautions

Let us start by saying that wearing contact lenses is safe as long as patients take the necessary hygiene precautions. This conclusion is based on a survey of almost 200 peer-reviewed articles published on April 22.

Some of these articles discuss the virus's capacity to bind to cells on the ocular surface as a result of the affinity of one or more of its components. However, such binding does not inevitably translate into the virus's potential to cause an eye infection.

Some of these articles go into detail about the virus's ability to connect to cells on the ocular surface due to the affinity of one or more of its components. However, such binding does not always imply that the virus has the capacity to produce an eye infection.

Eye injury is a rare occurrence.

COVID-19 causes very little ocular symptoms. Conjunctivitis, a minor inflammation of the eye's white, affects less than 1% of infected persons (conjunctiva). Conjunctivitis is typically caused by viruses rather than bacteria.

COVID-19 conjunctivitis can linger for 10 to 20 days after the virus's first symptoms develop. Keratoconjunctivitis is a term used to describe when the cornea is also impacted. With the conventional therapies for these diagnoses, these illnesses are well controlled, with no serious long-term consequences.

Is it true that contact lenses are a vector?

More than 140 million people wear contact lenses around the world, and they are still a very effective and safe approach to correct vision.

The lens is the first thing to think about. Is it possible that it will serve as a vector for the virus's spread?

Although the virus can exist on inert surfaces, no studies have shown that it can colonize and stay on the lens in the ocular environment. As a result, the lens cannot be properly regarded a vector for disease transmission or spread. The use of daily disposable (one-time use) lenses minimizes this risk even more.In all settings, this form of wear is acknowledged as the safest for eye health.

The second component is lens handling, which includes contacting the eyes during lens insertion and removal. It's becoming clear that hand washing, which is typically recommended when wearing contact lenses, is even more important in the event of a pandemic.

However, before handling lenses, hands should be completely dried because tap water may be infected with bacteria other than SARS-CoV-2 that are more virulent and destructive to the eye. Never use tap water to rinse your lenses or the lens case, much alone store them in it. Hands should be dried with disposable paper, not reusable towels that can easily become infected.

Finally, lens maintenance should be done with products that have been particularly designed for this purpose and are suggested by eye-care professionals. For disinfection and overnight soaking, a peroxide solution is preferable. To rinse contact lenses in the morning before insertion, use a saline solution made for contact lenses.

Spectacles are not the answer.

Is it better for individuals who are unsure to contemplate wearing glasses while waiting for everything to return to normal? No, it does not. Indeed, it has been demonstrated that glasses are usually improperly set and slip, leading the individual to touch their face more frequently than when wearing lenses, most of the time without the ability to wash their hands beforehand. As a result, the chance of transmission rises correspondingly.

This danger is heightened by the fact that the virus can survive for several days on both plastic and metal frames. Contamination from the person's exposure to droplets, as well as virus attachment on this surface, is more likely than with contact lenses. Finally, the eyewear does not operate as a barrier against the virus: the nose and mouth continue to be entry points. In summary, conventional corrective spectacles should not be regarded a COVID-19 personal protection gear.

In the unlikely case that the lens user has abnormal symptoms (redness, pain, sensitivity to light, foreign body sensation, abnormal secretions while or after wearing the lenses), he or she should seek emergency medical attention from an optometrist or ophthalmologist. A remote (telemedicine) or in-office consultation can then be scheduled promptly.

General health instructions

Although the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been found in the tears of some sick patients, it is exceedingly unlikely that this route of transmission results in systemic disease or localized infection of the eye.

In certain cases, contact lenses may be considered safe to wear if the following hygiene guidelines are rigorously followed:

  1. Before and after handling contact lenses, thoroughly clean your hands.
  2. Using a clean, disposable cloth, thoroughly dry your hands.
  3. Do not use tap water to rinse, clean, or soak the lens, even if it is only for a short period of time.
  4. If possible, utilize single-use disposable soft lenses every day to avoid the need for solutions or casings.
  5. If you wear reusable lenses, only use the lens care products advised by your eye doctor.
  6. After no more than two months, replace the lens case. Use a contact lens solution to clean it on a daily basis. Instead of using water, boil it or place it in the dishwasher.
  7. Contact lenses should not be worn when sleeping.
  8. If you notice any strange symptoms, see an optometrist or ophthalmologist right away.

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