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Home » What's New » Coronavirus and Your Eyes – What You Should Know

Coronavirus and Your Eyes – What You Should Know

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As coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads around the world, and specifically in our area in New Jersey, health professionals advise that we limit our risk of contracting the virus by:

  1. thoroughly washing our hands,
  2. practicing social distancing, and
  3. not touching our face:  nose, mouth, or eyes

Your eyes actually play an important role in spreading COVID-19. 

Coronavirus is transmitted through droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. These droplets can easily enter your body through the mucous membranes on your face, such as your nose, mouth, and your eyes. 

What Is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a virus that causes mild to severe respiratory illness associated with fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Symptoms typically appear within 2 weeks of exposure. Those with acute cases of the virus can develop pneumonia and other life-threatening complications. 

What you should know?

Guard Your Eyes Against COVID-19 

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes. It is very common for us to touch our face and our eyes. If you absolutely must, first wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Tears carry the virus. Touching tears or a surface where tears have fallen can spread coronavirus. Make sure to wash your hands after touching your eyes and throughout the day as well.
  • Disinfect surfaces. You can contract COVID-19 by touching an object or surface that has the virus on it, such as a door knob, and then touching your eyes. 

Coronavirus and Pink Eye

Pink eye, (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation of the the clear membrane that covers the white of the eye. Conjunctivitis is characterized by red, watery, and itchy eyes. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can be spread by coughing and sneezing, too.

A recent study indicates that viral conjunctivitis may be a symptom of COVID-19. The study found conjunctival injection (redness) occurs in about 1 out of every 100 people who have coronavirus. 

If you suspect you have pink eye, call us: Family Eye Care in Old Bridge, NJ.  Please call us before coming in so we can assess your condition and adequately prepare for your visit.

Contact Lenses or Eyeglasses?

If you usually wear contact lenses, it may be a good idea to use eyeglasses during this time, in order to lower your risk of being infected with coronavirus.  Wearing glasses may provide an extra layer of protection. The infected droplets will hit the lens of your eyeglasses rather than going into your eye. Eyeglasses will obviously not protect you if the virus reaches your eyes from the exposed sides, tops and bottoms around your frames. Unlike specialized safety goggles, glasses are not considered a safe way to prevent coronavirus.

Contact Lenses and COVID-19

If you wear contact lenses, it is a good idea to wash your hands well before inserting or removing your lenses. 

Clean your Eyeglasses Regularly 

Some viruses can remain on a hard surfaces for hours to days. This can then be transmitted to your fingers and then to your face. People who wear reading glasses should be even more careful, because they usually handle their glasses more often throughout the day.  As you are probably aware, older individuals tend to be more vulnerable to COVID-19.  Wash the lenses and frames with warm water and soap, and dry your eyeglasses using a microfiber cloth. 

If you take Eye Medicine...

It is a good idea to make sure you have enough of all medications, including eye medications for glaucoma for example, just in case you need to be quarantined or if supplies run short. This may not be possible for everyone due to insurance limitations. If you cannot pre-order, then make sure to request a refill as soon as you're due. It is never a good idea to wait until the last minute to contact your pharmacy. 

Digital Devices and Eyestrain

At times like this, we all tend to use digital devices even more.  Take note if your eyes become tired, or sore, or if you have blurry vision.  Double vision or headaches are symptoms of computer vision syndrome.  This can become particularly noticeable when your visual system is overworked, when using computers or other digital devices.  It might indicate a need for a new prescription in the near future. Many patients benefit from the use of special eyeglasses that are designed specifically for those who spend a lot of time on computer. 

Children and Digital Devices

As children are now not in school, they may end up spending even more screen-time than usual.  They may be using computers, tablets and smartphones more, and for longer amounts of time.  Computer vision syndrome, mentioned above, can affect children as well. We recommend limiting screen time to a maximum of 2 hours per day for children, though it's understandably difficult to control under the circumstances. 

A good rule of thumb is the 20-20-20 rule, especially in this year of 2020. 

For every 20 minutes that you are on computer, look at a distance object that is at least 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.

It is a good idea to stop all screen time for at least 60 minutes before sleep. You and your child will sleep better. 

Children and Outdoor Play

For good visual development, it is a good idea to spend at least 1-2 hours a day outside.

We, at Family Eye Care, in Old Bridge NJ, wish you good health and hope you stay safe.