While the greatest risk of contracting coronavirus is contracting the virus through the nose or mouth, your eyes are also vulnerable. That is why eye care and protection during the coronavirus pandemic also works to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Some infected people have no symptoms at all or are contagious before they experience any symptoms, which means you never know if/when you are a carrier or whether you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. This is why the all-for-one-and-one-for-all mandates are so important. We’ll notably flatten the curve and dramatically reduce the number of infections if everyone acts as if they have it.
The coronavirus incubates for two to 14 days, during which point infected individuals can experience traditional flu-like symptoms (sore throat, cough, fatigue, aches, etc. In most areas, only a very small minority experience symptoms dramatic enough to require hospitalization.
Don’t Be Afraid To Schedule An Appointment If You Need Immediate Eye Care
The great news is that routine ophthalmic and optometric care has resumed in the state of Florida as of May 4th. Any new or existing eye conditions are absolutely a priority for any optometrist or ophthalmologist, and you should schedule an appointment whenever you experience unusual eye symptoms or discomfort.
Your immune system will have a more difficult time fighting off any infection – coronavirus or otherwise – when it is busy trying to take care of your eyes. Eye infections or conditions that go untreated can seriously compromise the health of your eyes and good vision.
You should absolutely maintain or schedule in-person appointments if you:
- Have diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, or you receive regularly scheduled injections
- Experience an eye injury (even a seemingly small one) or trauma to the eye
- Experience a decline or blurriness in your vision
- Have an eye that is red, infected, weepy, or causing you pain/discomfort
- Notice floaters, blurry spots, blind spots, or flashes in your vision
SPECIAL NOTE: The doctors at Atlantic Eye Institute are on call 24/7 to support our patients’ health. Please contact us for any and all eye-related issues, including emergencies, and avoid going to an ER or urgent care. Visiting general and emergency care offices put you at a higher-risk of coronavirus exposure.
Also, if you are visiting your eye doctor or another medical/professional office during the coronavirus pandemic, let them know if you are feeling under the weather, or if you have a cough, cold, or fever to make sure everyone takes extra special precaution.
Are you due for an eye exam and still feel uncomfortable about having an in-person appointment? Contact your eye doctor and ask about their telehealth options, which may include Virtual Eye Exams.
Tips & Recommendations To Protect Your Eyes From COVID-19
The good news is that sheltering-in-place and following mask-wearing and handwashing practices have gone a long way to “flatten the curve.” Even so, it is essential that you protect yourself and your family from contracting the virus in the present moment and as we slowly emerge from the contagion’s peaks.
Additionally, good eye protection and care tips also support eye health from a lifetime of bacteria and virus exposure, which is part of living on planet earth.
Your soft eye tissues are permeable
The soft, moist layers of tissue on the outer eye are permeable, which allows oxygen and moisture to flow in and out. As a result of that permeability, the eyes are vulnerable to bacteria and viruses – including the coronavirus.
If someone who has coronavirus (or any flu virus) talks, coughs or sneezes, and the misty saliva droplets make it into your eye, there is a chance the virus will enter your system. The same holds true if your hands/fingers come in contact with the virus (via contact with a person, a doorknob, store door handles, etc.), and then you rub your eyes.
Adhere to Current Coronavirus Pandemic Safety Precautions
The best way to protect your eyes from contact with the virus is to adhere to current COVID-19 safety precautions. The protective steps are simple and effective when they are followed to the letter and without exception.
- Wearing masks in public spaces (preventing your saliva droplets from escaping, and preventing your mouth/nose from others’ droplets)
- Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when leaving a public place or after coming in contact with others
- Keeping a six-feet minimum of distance between yourself and others (eight- to 10 feet is even better)
- Wash doorknobs, fridge doors, and faucet levers routinely with soap and water. The virus has a fatty (lipid) layer that is sloughed away with soap but doesn’t always respond to other cleaning or antibacterial agents)
- Cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm, rather than your hand
Take extra steps to protect your eyes
Some additional things you can do to protect the health of your eyes, which also protects your overall health:
Avoid rubbing your eyes as much as possible. While washing hands is one of the best ways to protect yourself from contracting coronavirus through your mouth, nose, or eyes, it’s also easier said than done. Breaking the habit of touching your face, putting your fingers in your mouth, or rubbing your eyes is a smart move. If you must rub your eyes, give your hands a good washing first.
Call a doctor if you or someone in your family has red, pink, watery, or goopy eyes. While most pinkeye is caused by bacteria or non-COVID-19 viruses, some physicians have reported COVID-19 patients with eye infections. Call your physician and report any red-eye or weepy eye conditions that seem more than slight irritation or allergies. If you touch the discharge or goop, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water as eye infections are highly contagious.
During the coronavirus pandemic wear glasses instead of contact lenses. Those who wear contact lenses touch and rub their eyes more often, so wearing glasses may be a safer and more comfortable option right now.
Get a three-month supply of prescription eye medications. If you use prescription eye drops or medication, speak to your healthcare provider and/or your insurance carrier about getting a three-month supply so you have what you need if supplies run low or public access mandates become more stringent as the result of COVID-19 outbreak peaks.
We’re Here, Coronavirus Pandemic Or Not
Please reach out to us here at the Atlantic Eye Institute with any questions or concerns you have about your eyes or observing routine appointments. We are here to support you and your overall health every step of the way.