Are Contact Lenses Safe to Wear During the Coronavirus Pandemic? 8 Simple Tips

By Aris Konstantopolous

Please keep safe and stay up to date with the latest advice provided by the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

In the UK there are over 4 million contact lens wearers, the vast majority of which are very happy with the convenience and visual improvement lenses provide. Contact lens wear is very safe however, most contact lens wearers may be unaware of the small risks associated with their use until they develop some discomfort or redness of the eye. Following good contact lens hygiene and practices is the most significant measure in reducing such problems and this could not be more relevant than in current times.

A common question we’ve been encountering recently is whether contact lens wear is still safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Although there is no relevant scientific evidence, currently the answer is yes, contact lens wear remains safe. To understand why, you first need to understand how COVID-19 is spread:

  • By airborne droplets: e.g. someone with COVID-19 coughs and the droplets reach your mouth, nose or eyes;
  • By direct contact: e.g. touching someone who has the virus on his hands or face;
  • By indirect contact: e.g. a positive patient has contaminated a door handle that you subsequently touch and then you touch your mouth, nose or eyes.

So as long as you’re not coming into contact with the virus by any of the above methods and then putting in/taking out your contact lenses or rubbing your eyes, you should be fine.

But to be absolutely sure, following this advice will reduce your risk of contact lens-related problems:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before inserting and removing your lenses; this also applies to daily lens wearers
  2. During the coronavirus outbreak, you should wash your hands multiple times a day
  3. Disinfect your lenses daily as instructed by your optometrist and lens manufacturer
  4. Do not touch your mouth, face and nose without washing your hands first
  5. Do not rub your eyes without prior hand washing
  6. Do not shower in your contact lenses, as this increases the risk of infection
  7. Do not sleep in your lenses, as this reduces oxygen reaching your eye and increases the risk of infection
  8. If you feel unwell with flu-like symptoms, do not wear your lenses; instead, resume wearing glasses

Looking after your Eyes In Spring

The season of allergies (Spring) is here! But with Spring, contact lens wear can become more troublesome due to the increase in environmental pollen. The classic symptoms of allergic eyes, including itchiness, burning sensation, puffiness and tiredness of the eyes, can be made worse by wearing lenses. If you do suffer from hay fever or allergic eyes, the use of daily lenses may be preferable to monthly or 2 weekly lenses.

To combat the annoying side effects, here are some simple tips that can help:

  • Wear your sunglasses when outdoors to minimise pollen entering your eyes
  • When the pollen count is high, avoid going out mid-day to early evening; also keep your windows closed if possible
  • Don’t rub your eyes, as this releases chemicals that make the itchiness worse
  • Use preservative-free lubricant drops regularly; this dilutes the effect of molecules that trigger the allergy or make your symptoms worse
  • Cold compresses to your eyelids can alleviate with your symptoms
  • Avoid wearing make-up around your eyes
  • Wash your bed linen regularly to minimise dust mites
  • Clean the house regularly with a damp cloth and mop to reduce stirring up dust mites and pet dander – these can trigger the symptoms of allergy in the eyes

Long Term Effects of Wearing Contact Lenses

Unfortunately, the chronic wear of contact lenses over the years can lead to contact lens intolerances and develop the following symptoms; irritation, burning sensation, grittiness, dry eye and watery red eye. These side-effects are unpleasant but in more serious cases, corneal ulceration with potentially sight-threatening infections can develop.

If you do develop a red eye at any point, seek urgent medical advice because contact lens wear will always carry the risk of infection and sight loss, even though the risk is small.

At Laser Vision Eye Centre, we don’t normally consult on these issues but due to the pandemic, we’re more than happy to be contacted for advice, especially if access to your normal eye care provider may be disrupted during the coronavirus period.

If you’re sick & tired of wearing contact lenses and would like to free yourself from the hassle altogether, it’s worth considering laser vision correction. Laser eye surgery is a life-changing procedure. 20-20 vision just makes your day-to-day life more convenient. If you’d like to learn more about laser eye surgery and the various procedures available, join us for our upcoming Webinar ‘>A Beginners Guide to Laser Vision Correction‘ on Thursday, June 11th, at 6:30 pm.

Throughout the webinar, you’ll learn about the various laser vision correction procedures, who can benefit, what conditions it treats and much more. Plus, you’ll get the opportunity to meet our world-renowned surgeons David Anderson & Aris Konstantopoulos, and ask any questions you might have.

You can also contact us on 02381 810001 at any time to book a free e-consultation or just for general advice. Alternatively, book a free e-consultation online.

About the Author:

Aris Konstantopolous
Aris Konstantopolous is a co-founder and medical director at Laser Vision Eye Centre. Along with David, he personally performs all of our procedures, consultations and assessments.

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