There has been a lot of information in the news about COVID-19 (aka Coronavirus).
You are probably aware that COVID may be passed from one person to another when an infected person coughs or talks, since viral particles can flow from one person’s mouth or nose and be inhaled by nearby people.
Similarly, the virus may also be spread by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching your nose or mouth. What you may not know is that the disease may also be transmitted via contact with the eyes.
Spread of COVID-19 is Possible Through the Eyes
Although the risk is low, droplets containing the virus can enter the body through the eyes. Touching the eye(s) after touching a doorknob, counter, or other surface that has the virus on it and then scratching or rubbing the eyes can create an entry point for the virus.
Wear glasses, not contacts.
Switching from wearing contact lenses to wearing glasses can be effective because not only does this decrease the need to touch the eyes upon insertion and removal of the lenses, but wearing glasses can also provide a shield from droplets and act as a reminder avoid touching the eyes.
Wear goggles when caring for someone who may have COVID.
Wearing safety goggles can provide extra protection if you’re caring for someone in your home who has COVID. If possible, the potentially infected individual should be confined to a single room with limited exposure to others in the household (including the caretaker) for the duration of the illness.
Generally, those with COVID are no longer infective after 7-10 days following the onset of symptoms.
How to Safely Touch Your Eyes During the COVID-19 Pandemic
If you must touch your eye or adjust your glasses, keep the following suggestions in mind:
- Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for 20+ seconds and dry them thoroughly before touching your face or eyes.
- If you cannot wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, use a tissue as a barrier between your fingers and your eyes or face.
- If you suffer from dry eyes, pay close attention to your eye care regimen, and keep your eyes moisturized — doing this will decrease the urge to rub your eyes.
These suggestions are helpful to maintaining good eye hygiene under any circumstances.
Lastly, remember that frequent handwashing for 20+ seconds can certainly decrease the risk of getting the virus through the eyes, nose, and mouth. Wearing a face covering in public is also recommended to reduce your chances of picking up the virus through your nose or mouth.