Contact Lenses and COVID-19
Contact lens wear and COVID-19 infection risk
Am I at increased of COVID-19 because i wear contact lenses?
There is no evidence of an increased risk of COVID-19 infection in contact lens wearers. While COVID-19 is new, previous outbreaks of coronavirus, including SARS, did not see an increased risk of infection for contact lens wearers. It can safely be assumed that the risk of catching COVID 19 through contact lens use is low.
Limited access to medical care during the pandemic means scrupulous contact lens care
However, contact lens wearers must be mindful of the limited access to medical services during the pandemic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, most optometrists and ophthalmologists offices are closed, limiting access to eye care services. If you have an eye problem during COVID-19, you may not be able to see an eye doctor, so the best thing you can do is maintain perfect contact lens hygiene and not create a medical problem for yourself.
Poor contact lens heigene can interrupt self-isolation and burden the emergency room
In addition, during the pandemic you should limit the need to leave self-isolation. This means you should not put yourself in a position to need medical care for preventable problems related to your contact lens wear. If you find yourself in need of medical care due to an eye problem, contact your optometrist before going to the Emergency Room because hospital resources may be in greater demand than normal. Many optometrists, who closed for routine care, will see emergency patients. For example, Perspective Optometry is closed at the moment but we have a staff member answering the phones and triaging patients so that emergencies are seen in the office if necessary and consultations with patients may be given over the telephone or over a secure video examination platform online.
Practice perfect contact lens hygiene during COVID-19
For these reasons, it is critically important for all contact lens wearers to follow struct lens hygiene and cleaning protocols. This is generally the same care and hygiene you should always follow but with some extra precautions during COVID-19:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and dry them with a paper towel before inserting contact lenses and before removing them.
- Properly clean contact lenses daily using rub and rinse and use the correct case for reusable contacts and clean your case every day.
- Reduce or eliminate sleeping in your contact lenses.
- Consider moving to daily disposable contact lenses.
- Avoid touching your face and eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- If you are unwell, especially if you have cold and flue symptoms, don't wear contact lenses at all.
During COVID-19 know if you are at higher risk of a contact lens related infection
Bearn in mind that contact lens related infections are very rare. However some people are more at risk than others. The following are factors that put you at higher risk of an infection and you should be extra careful during the pandemic to make sure you are not unnecessarily burdening the medical system with a preventable infection:
- younger age;
- an eye infection in the past;
- higher prescription;
- overnight contact lens wear;
- blepharitis diagnosis;
- use of reusable contacts (as opposed to daily disposables); and
- poor lens storage and case hygiene.
Daily disposables are the best choice for COVID-19 pandemic contact lens wear
Studies show that eye infections are lowest among daily disposable lens wearers. This means that daily disposables are the ideal pandemic contact lens. If you are not currently wearing daily disposables, you should consult with us to find out if they are suitable for you. Even if you switch back to reusable contacts after the pandemic, many contact lens wearers keep a supply of daily disposables to wear on vacation or during sports activities.