COVID-19 and Eye Health: What You Need To Know
It’s important to stay on top of the latest information on COVID-19 to keep you and your family healthy. Scientists are learning more about how the eyes can be affected by the novel coronavirus. Here, we’ll take a look at what you need to know to keep your eyes safe.
First, it’s important to know that the coronavirus can enter the body through the eyes. This most commonly happens when someone touches a surface that’s been contaminated by the virus and then touches their eyes.
It can be hard to stop from touching your eyes throughout the day, especially if you deal with allergies or other conditions that can cause itchy eyes. Wearing glasses or a face shield may be helpful in reminding you to keep your hands away from your eyes. If you choose to wear glasses, including PPE glasses, be sure to keep them as clean as possible, and avoid touching them. Never share your glasses (or sunglasses) with anyone else.
In addition to touching your eyes as little as possible, good handwashing is an essential part of keeping your eyes safe. This is especially important if you wear contact lenses. Be sure to wash and dry your hands thoroughly before inserting and removing your lenses. While hand sanitizer is an effective way to kill the virus, you’ll want to refrain from using hand sanitizer before inserting or removing your contact lenses, as this can be extremely irritating to your eyes. Never sleep in your contact lenses, as this makes the possibility of infection much more likely. It’s also important to replace your lenses as instructed in order to keep your eyes clean and safe.
In the event that you do contract COVID-19, it’s possible that you may experience conjunctivitis, a condition classified by inflammation of the outer layer of the eyeball and the inner layer of the eyelid. Conjunctivitis can make the eye appear bloodshot and can feel itchy. If you’re experiencing conjunctivitis and are concerned that you may have been exposed to COVID-19, it’s important to reach out to your eye doctor as soon as possible. They’ll work with you to set up an appointment in a safe way to evaluate your eye, if necessary.
Most people do not experience eye issues with COVID-19. If you’re experiencing red, itchy eyes, it’s far more likely that it’s a result of allergies, the common cold, an eye irritant, or another common cause, rather than the coronavirus. For most people, conjunctivitis clears up on it’s own over time.