While no current findings support concerns that healthy contact lens wearers are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, these patients should be aware of several factors to remain safe in their lenses, according to researchers.
First, switching to spectacle wear may actually pose a greater risk of exposure, as intermittent use increases face touching, and plastic surfaces serve as virus transmitters.
Second, with how often we touch our faces, proper hygiene becomes even more crucial. This includes washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after encountering anything that may not have been disinfected, using hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available and avoiding touching mucous membranes with unwashed hands. Contact lens wearers should be well versed in hand washing, as this is an important step before inserting and removing lenses.
Third, the report goes on to add that no contact lens material is more likely to enhance or reduce the risk of COVID-19, but following the recommended replacement schedule is more important than ever. They add that daily disposable contact lenses substantially diminish the risk of inflammatory complications and should be disposed of each evening. Monthly and two-week lenses should be disinfected regularly and according to manufacturer instructions. Contact lens use should be discontinued if a patient falls sick or receives a positive diagnosis.
As the situation continues to evolve, so too does new information. Now more than ever, clinicians must look to patient communication and compliance for the best chance at success.
|Jones L, Walsh K, Willcox M, et al. The COVID-19 pandemic: important considerations for contact lens practitioners. Cont Lens Ant Eye. April 3, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].