Your life and eyes 4 min read

Is Your Eye Health Affected By Coronavirus?

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As COVID-19 continues to dominate the headlines, it is crucial that you understand the symptoms and risks associated with the virus. Protecting yourself and those around you is vital, as so much new information emerges every day. COVID-19, commonly known as Coronavirus, can manifest itself in different ways depending on how you react to the virus, so it’s essential to take the right precautions to be on the safe side.

With or without the coronavirus pandemic, it is critical to look after your health as best as you can.

  • Washing your hands with soap and water often - do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in a bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of Coronavirus 

Looking after your health includes looking after your eyes, which could play a role in the spread and prevention of the outbreak.

While it may be unlikely that you can catch Coronavirus through your eyes, it is still essential to follow good hygienic practices to minimise any risk.

Wearing contact lenses

If you wear contact lenses, it may be beneficial to switch to glasses while COVID-19 is a risk. Generally speaking, contact lens wearers touch their eyes more than the average person, which can increase your risk of spreading germs.

If you often find yourself touching your eyes frequently, you may want to consider wearing glasses more often. Substituting your contact lenses for glasses can reduce irritation and could also act as a deterrent when going to touch your eyes.

Person washing hands with soap

If you choose to maintain contact lens wear, be even more stringent in washing your hands before inserting and removing your lenses. Washing your hands is something that should always be done as routine anyway but increasing the frequency will help to reduce the chances of contracting and passing on the virus.

Protecting your eyes

Wearing glasses could act as an additional layer of protection. COVID-19 is thought to be contracted through airborne respiratory droplets, usually caused when someone infected coughs or sneezes. Very similar to a cold or flu. Your glasses may act as a barrier to protect your eyes from this, although it won’t provide 100% security.

If you are in contact with or near a potentially exposed person, you may want to consider safety goggles which could be more effective, according to the World Health Organisation. This could also be beneficial for those caring for patients who are at risk.

Ocular symptoms of Coronavirus

The latest information from Hospital Eye Doctors suggests Conjunctivitis often referred to as a “red-eye”, is not commonly seen in a person with the COVID-19 virus until late in the disease. This research is backed by several international research projects

Reducing your risk

You can reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 through a few simple measures which you should vigilantly, as well as more information and advice that emerges. Starting with washing your hands frequently and for long enough. You should also reduce your exposure by avoiding people who are ill and staying at home if you are ill yourself.

Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces in your home frequently; viruses can last on surfaces for hours, and so you can reduce your risk by making sure things that you touch are clean.

Understanding the symptoms of Coronavirus can help you to reduce your chances of passing it on to others. Many people only develop mild symptoms and may experience mild respiratory illness accompanied by a fever, cough, sore throat or headache. Older people and those with underlying health issues may develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia.

Symptoms generally show within 2-14 days, and these are (as per the nhs.uk website):

  • A high temperature- you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • A new, continuous cough- you have started coughing repeatedly

It is recommended that you self-isolate if you begin to notice any symptoms so that you do not pass it to others, including not going to your GP, pharmacy or hospital. You DO NOT need to phone 111 to tell them you are staying at home.

It has also now been recommended by the UK Government that you avoid any non-essential foreign travel as well as frequenting highly populated areas such as concerts, pubs, restaurants and large social gatherings.

If you start to notice changes in your health or your symptoms get worse, it is advised to use the NHS 111 Coronavirus service https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/  and only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

Above all else, it’s a necessary time to look out for one another.

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