Given the directives to stop touching our faces, including our noses and eyes, to limit the spread of COVID-19, we wanted to know if contact lens wearers should be doing something different now than they were before.
As always, information on social media runs the gamut, from “don’t worry at all” to “stop wearing contacts.”
We decided to reach out to a local optometrist for some guidance.
Dr. Chris Collins of the Collins Eye Clinic in Vicksburg advised that now more than ever, good eye hygiene is crucial.
“I always recommend thorough hand washing before handling contact lenses,” he said. “Use only doctor and manufacturer-recommended products to care for the lens. The eye has been identified as a potential risk, but I am not advising patients to stop wearing contacts at this time.”
“It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes on its website.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recently provided the following guidance compiled by David Turbert and reviewed by Dr. James M. Huffman:
- Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them with a lint-free towel before handling your contacts.
- Minimize contact with water. Remove lenses before showering, swimming or entering a hot tub.
- Do not rinse or store your contacts in water (tap or sterile water).
- Do not put your lenses in your mouth to wet them.
- Do not use saline solution and rewetting drops to disinfect lenses. Neither is an effective or approved disinfectant.
- Follow your eye care professional’s schedule for wearing and replacing your contacts.
- Use the “rub and rinse” method to clean your contacts. Rub your contact lenses with your fingers, then rinse them with solution before soaking. Use this method even if the solution you are using is a “no-rub” variety.
- Rinse the contact lens case with fresh solution — not water. Then leave the empty case open to air dry.
- Keep the contact lens case clean and replace it regularly, at least every three months. Lens cases can be a source of contamination and infection. Do not use cracked or damaged lens cases.
- Do not re-use old solution or “top off” the solution in your lens case.
- Do not transfer contact lens solution into smaller travel-size containers.
- Do not allow the tip of the solution bottle to touch any surface. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.
- Never wear your lenses after storage for 30 or more days without disinfecting them again.
For more information on eye health and COVID-19, visit the AAO website.