COVID-19 and Contact lenses

Does contact lenses wearer have a higher risk to become a carrier of COVID-19?

Even after the COVID-19 lockdown there is much need to get aware properly form all the risk factors and possibilities of coronavirus contamination. Corona may never go away so during such a pandemic condition every person should take his responsibility and manage hygienic conditions itself. Back to work means a return to self-care and social distancing practice.  Patients should be organized by using telehealth prior to proper appointment. Doctors and paramedic staff need to be well-trained in precautions, other new procedures, and all protective measures during their duty. By using PPE, masks, screen, and timely cleaning of equipment and all other intact surfaces can help to decrease the exposure of the virus. Not for staff only it is also the utmost duty of COVID patients to obey all the rules and guidelines. Although, wearing contact lenses is an adequate option for corona patients to avoid its transmission.

Is SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 is the same thing?

SARS-CoV-2 is the name of the virus that causes COVID-19 disease. The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been first introduced in January 2020. This virus spread rapidly and affects about 13 million people and millions of deaths have been reported till yet. This virus is endemic to China and spread to Italy, the UK, India, and all over the world. The disease is controlled by implementing lock-down properly so that citizens are confined to their homes to avoid transmission. But after a few months this lock-down goes along with the loss of jobs, business and economy also.

Coronavirus invades in your body via the nose, mouth in the form of small droplets when someone COVID-19 carrier sneezes, talk, or cough. It is also spread by touching any public object like door handles etc. It is also claimed that COID-19 spread through the eyes by interacting with contaminated hands. However, transmission through the eyes is less common. Wearing contact lenses isn’t the actual reason for the higher risk of coronavirus but if you are wearing lenses so there are higher chances to touch your eyes frequently as compared to those who aren’t wearing lenses. Touching your eyes habitually can lead you to become a carrier of the corona. 

Wash your hands time and again particularly after touching public contaminated surfaces. This is the main way to keep you safe from coronavirus. To protect against the COVID-19 virus proper hygienic procedures are to be implemented to avoid potential contamination. Many current pieces of research on COVID-19 revealed that contact lenses wearer is at high risk to get infected because they touch their eyes more commonly.

What is the link between COVID-19 and contact lenses?

Coronavirus is an RNA virus that is covered by a protein shell that is known as nucleocapsid which is enveloped in a lipid bilayer. The envelope of viruses possesses many spikes that give it the appearance of a crown hence it is named “corona”. With the help of spikes, a virus can easily bind on the receptor surface i.e. human tissue.  Doctors recommend us to wash our hands frequently with soap to control contamination because the virus is immensely responsive to the action of soaps etc.

Coronavirus attached itself to the lining of the nose, tongue, larynx, pharynx, lungs, etc. It is also suspect that coronavirus can also be entered in the human body through the eyes by contacting with the retina or its epithelium. Some researchers claim that the eye is also a gateway for the entry of coronavirus via ocular surfaces. Many research studies concluded that the risk of entry of coronavirus through ocular surfaces is low as compared to the nose, hands tongue, and lungs.

Recent clinical studies reveal that neither a specific tissue nor a specific gateway is involved in coronavirus entry to the respiratory tract. However, the transmission of COID-19 through conjunctivitis, tears, and other conjunctive secretions wasn’t detected. Additional cohort studies concluded a very low transmission of coronavirus that is about 3% in confirmed cases and 0-7% in symptomatic cases. In some other cohort studies incidence of conjunctivitis is about 0.56%-2.5%.

A review paper culminates that eye care by patients as well as by practitioners is mandatory so the virus couldn’t bind to the ocular surface. Since there is no evince regarding the higher risk of contact lens wearer but lens wearer and glasses wearer should practice self-care and hygiene habits because they touch their eye most frequently. It is important to properly advise the lens wearer based on the latest research evidence.

Did you hear about COVID-19 conjunctivitis?

In rare cases of COVID-19 patients’ ocular manifestation occurs. In this case, the patient experiences eye-irritation, very mild inflammation in the conjunctiva, and this lasts for about 10-20 days. However, in the case of some patients cornea of the eye is also affected which is termed as keratoconjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is also named a pink eye infection. It is one of the potential but rare eye symptoms of COVID-19. Researchers concluded that only 1.1 % of corona patients develop conjunctivitis (Pink-eye infection).

In such pandemic conditions, we have to change our habits and hygienic routines. Glasses or contact lenses wearers should require proper regulations and modifications in their practice. They can wear lenses but they should adopt more hygienic habits which are necessary for their health as well in such an alarming situation. They have to wash their hands and spectacles with soap timely to decrease the coronavirus exposure. Keep away unwashed hands from your nose, eyes, and mouth.

Good hygiene and eye care practice tips

  • One of the most important tips is to adopt good healthy hygienic practices while handling with spectacles or contact lenses.
  • Corona positive patients play the main role in hygiene practice because they are the biggest source of viral exposure. Patient management is the most important part of hygiene practice. Patients should be mange utilizing the website, mobile application, telephone calls, etc. Provide them a questionnaire to ask if they have had any serious symptoms.
  • The patient management practice is the most important because hundred of researchers found that if the patients with mild symptoms come in contact with confirmed corona patients or susceptible corona patients he/she have experienced conjunctivitis.
  • To decrease the viral exposure patients, as well as staff, should strictly obey the rules. Patients with mild symptoms need to be managed via telehealth or phone app.
  • The second important hygiene practice is personal protective equipment. Patients or other staff members take care of their hygiene and obey social distancing rules.
  • Public areas are re-arranged as per social distancing regulations. Separation screens are used on receptions to keep the distancing between the staff members and patients.
  • Every person should wear masks without masks entry should be restricted. Avoid gathering and use effective specific disinfectants against COVID-19. Use hydrogen peroxide, bleach, ethanol, or isopropanol solution as disinfectants.
  • Wash your hands properly before touching your eyes or putting in lenses. Always use a fresh lens solution to soak them.
  • Don’t sleep in your lenses because this habit increases the risk of getting an eye infection. Don’t rub your eyes with unwashed hands. Your hands are high exposure to the COVID-19 attack so make sure to wash your hands thoroughly.
Eye infection as a contagious ocular disease transmitting a virus with human vision spreading dangerous infectious germs and bacteria during cold or flu symptoms.

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