About 140 million people worldwide use contact lenses to correct their vision. During this time of the coronavirus when new symptoms of the disease keep springing out of nowhere, many people worry if wearing contact lenses is still safe.
Since a few studies have found that coronavirus can be detected in tears, some organizations were quick to put out advisories on the potential risk of using contact lenses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a literature review on Clinical and Experimental Optometry, wearing contact lenses is still safe as long as people follow proper hygienic measures on handling contact lenses. The report published on April 22, 2020, was based on almost 200 peer-reviewed articles.
In fact, due to frequent blinking with the use of contact lenses, the virus is unlikely to stay on the eye surface long enough to cause serious complications.
Furthermore, coronavirus-related eye symptoms are rare. Researchers say that when they do occur, only less than one percent of infected patients get eye irritation in any form.
If Contact Lenses are Safe, Are Glasses?
Some hesitant people might consider wearing glasses instead. Although wearing glasses doesn't really pose a threat, experts say that it is actually worse than using contact lenses.
People are most likely to touch and adjust their glasses more compared to using contact lenses that are already attached to their eyes. This causes them to touch their face more, sometimes without being conscious about washing their hands before or after doing so.
Because of this, the risk of transmission is higher than if people were to use contacts. According to a study, wearing contact lenses is still recognized as the safest in all conditions for eye health.
Even though putting on and removing the lenses involves touching one's eye directly, it is still assumed that by following proper hand hygiene when doing so, the risk of viral and bacterial transmission becomes less.
Contact Lens Hygiene Tips
Even though previous studies have detected coronavirus in the tears of some patients, health professionals say it is highly unlikely to transmit the virus through this route. Experts say it is still safe to wear contact lenses provided that people take precaution in doing so.
One crucial hygiene tip when wearing contact lenses is doing thorough hand washing before and after handling the lenses. Next, the hands must be dried with a clean and disposable paper towel or cloth.
Do not, in any circumstance, use tap water when cleaning, rinsing, or soaking contact lenses. Doing so even temporarily will damage the structure of the lens. If possible, use disposable lenses for every use to ensure that no cases or solutions are needed. Using one-time lenses lessens the risk of contamination.
However, if reusable contact lenses are worn, only use the solutions recommended by ophthalmologists. After two months of use, replace the lens case and clean it daily with contact lens solution. Never boil it or put it in the dishwasher as this could cause an unfavorable chemical reaction in the case.
Finally, another important contact lens hygiene tip is never to sleep with them on. Experts say that it could cause infections, corneal ulcers, and other health conditions that could potentially lead to permanent vision loss.