TORONTO -- Your eyeglasses may be a safer choice than contact lenses during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to American experts.
Coronavirus can spread through the eyes
Coronavirus causes mild to severe respiratory illness. Symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath can show up 2 to 14 days after a person is exposed. People with severe infections can develop pneumonia and die from complications of the illness.
Limiting eye exposure can help. Here’s why:
When a sick person coughs or talks, virus particles can spray from their mouth or nose into another person’s face. You’re most likely to inhale these droplets through your mouth or nose, but they can also enter through your eyes.
You can also become infected by touching something that has the virus on it — like a table or doorknob — and then touching your eyes.
First, people who wear contact lenses tend to touch their eyes and face more often than those who wear glasses – at least twice daily to insert and remove the lenses and throughout the day if the lenses get uncomfortable.
Without proper hygiene, this repeated face touching can increase chances of contracting the virus. The second reason is that eyeglasses can serve as a protective barrier, preventing you from touching your eyes and shielding them from any airborne contaminants. While contracting the virus through exposure to the eyes alone is rare, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra layer of defense.
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) said that while there is no data indicating that those who wear contact lenses are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, it does not discourage people from following the AAO’s advice.
“If [they] feel more comfortable wearing glasses at this time, that feeling is understandable, and they should make the switch,” the COS told CTVNews.ca in an email.
While the COS has yet to develop any specific recommendations regarding contact lenses during the coronavirus pandemic, its spokesperson emphasized the importance of handwashing for 20 seconds before touching your eyes or face.