Why contacts might be a bad idea during coronavirus pandemic

HOUSTON – Guarding your eyes could slow the spread of coronavirus.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends if a person wears contacts, they should switch to using their glasses for now. There are several reasons why this might be a good idea.

“The best reason to avoid contact lens at this time is potential hand contamination when you are putting the contacts in and out,” said Dr. Ruhi Soni of Kelsey-Seybold.

Experts have said people should avoid touching their eyes and face to reduce spreading germs.

Contact lens wearers touch their eyes more than the average person when taking the contacts in and out two or more times a day.

“People who wear contacts are more likely to rub their eyes and touch their eyes in the process of the day,” Soni said. “We don’t exactly know how many virus particles need to enter the eye to cause an infection. I think it’s something if we could avoid it, it would be better.”

Another factor is the contact lens case itself. Germs could be present on the case, and while a person is inserting or removing the contacts from their eyes.

Glasses provide extra protection

Wearing glasses can also add a layer of protection for the eyes.

“We do know if somebody were to cough or sneeze around you, and if any of that were go to into your eye, that would potentially be a source of infection for the patient,” said Dr. Soni.

If a person must wear contact lenses, they should consider safety glasses.

“When you put them on, there is a layer of protection at the top and also the side,” she said. “It’s not perfect. It’s not a 100% seal. It’s still better than the standard pair of spectacles.”

Dr. Soni also said even if there is a pair of non-prescription glasses lying around, a person can wear those as an extra shield for your eyes, the bigger the frame, the better.