The eyes are the windows to your soul — but could they also be portals for novel coronavirus infection? While many folks cover their noses and mouths, your peepers also qualify as mucus membranes.
When it comes to coronavirus and your eyes, what do you need to know to stay safe? The following information can help you make wise choices for yourself and your family.
1. You Can Contract the Virus Through Your Eyes
Recently, virologist and epidemiologist Dr. Joseph Fair reported that he believes he contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus through his eyes. He described a recent plane ride where he wiped down all surfaces and wore a mask and gloves but grew ill.
While it may seem unlikely, the virus can enter through any mucus membrane, including your eyes. Researchers haven’t quantified these risks or whether you should wear goggles if you run an increased danger of severe complications from an infection. Even if someone coughed or sneezed in your face, there’s no direct route from your soul-windows to your respiratory system. Without inhaling droplets, the risk of illness is low but possible.
2. Other Risk Factors Make You More Susceptible
You might run an elevated risk of contracting the novel coronavirus through your eyes if you have other conditions that increase susceptibility. For example, symptoms like difficulty driving at night can indicate age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Like many disorders, this condition increases inflammation, which taxes your immune system and makes you more susceptible to disease.
Another problem that plagues many is dry eyes. While this condition alone won’t increase risk, the associated rubbing can introduce the bug to your mucus membranes. Pregnant women should take special care, as they are more likely to experience eye sensitivity and irritation due to hormonal shifts.
3. You Should Probably Wear Glasses, Not Contacts
If you wear contact lenses, you might want to switch to your glasses for the time being for several reasons. Getting a lash stuck under a lens can prove excruciating, and your unwashed fingers could fly to remove the object without a second thought for hygiene. They can also increase dryness, which tempts you to start rubbing.
Furthermore, some researchers from the American Academy of Ophthalmology believe glasses serve as a barrier against respiratory droplets. While people might question your decision to wear goggles in public, no one will bat an eye at a pair of specs. Therefore, if you have concerns about contracting the virus through your peepers, pick up some costume frames if you have 20/20 vision.
4. It Can Give You Symptoms of Pink Eye
If you are prone to pink eye, one of your coronavirus infection symptoms might be a flare-up. Doctors believe that between 1% and 3% of infected patients will experience this condition. The redness and itching can stem from other factors, too — see your doctor to pinpoint the cause.
5. You Should Still Get Your Vision Checked
Many eye conditions can remain unnoticed until they begin to impair your vision. Therefore, you should still see your eye doctor for an annual checkup. The earlier your doctor catches disorders like glaucoma, the sooner they can begin treatment. This diligence can make the difference between going blind or not.
However, you do need to take additional precautions in a COVID-19 world. Wear a mask and reschedule your appointment if you have a fever or flu-like symptoms on exam day. Your provider may check your temperature before admitting you, and for safety’s sake, you should wash your hands before and after your visit.
6. Above All, Follow a Hands-Off Rule
The best way to avoid contracting the novel coronavirus through your eyes is to practice a hands-off policy. However, while it’s easy to say, “don’t touch your face,” remembering that principle when your eyes itch takes discipline — and tricks.
One method that might serve as a reminder is painting your nails a vivid shade. The shock of seeing electric aqua instead of your expected skin tone can provide the time necessary to remember the germs on your mitts. Most workplaces don’t dictate what hues you can wear on your fingertips.
Protect Your Eyes from the Coronavirus
While an infection is unlikely via this method, you can contract the novel coronavirus through your eyes. Protect yourself and your precious peepers with these tips.