Can you catch COVID-19 through your eyes? While the complete details about novel coronavirus remain unknown, scientists believe the virus can enter your body through your eyes. The contaminated droplets respiratory droplets from an infected person can transmit the virus. It is also possible for the virus to transmit through the droplets of saliva or the mucus from an infected person’s nose. When you come in close contact with the infected person, the infected droplets or mucus can end up in an uninfected person’s nose or mouth. Through the nose or mouth, it can travel to the lungs. Scientists also note that the contaminated droplets can also enter the body through the eyes. It is because the mucous membranes throughout the body are more vulnerable areas of virus transmission. Do you want to safeguard yourself from the contagious disease? Then, read ahead to know more.
Novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 causes respiratory disease that can cause fatal results. Apart from the human-to-human transmission, the virus can transmit from a contaminated surface to humans. So, apart from spreading of the virus through respiratory droplets directly, it can also spread when you touch a surface like a countertop or a doorknob with the virus. While it is a minor case, you can avoid the possibility of such transmission. After touching the contaminated surface, when you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes, the virus can enter your body. With no vaccination and medicine to alleviate the disease, you need to stay cautious to prevent the infection. Better eye care, good hand hygiene, social distancing, using a face mask, and wearing glasses will help you avoid the spread of the disease. Limiting physical contact with others is the key to avoiding the infection.
Can You Catch COVID-19 Through Your Eyes?
When the contaminated droplets enter your bloodstream, you catch the infection. While the transmission is possible through the nose and mouth, people wonder if it is possible to catch COVID-19 through your eyes. Evidence suggests that the virus can transmit through your eyes. SARS-CoV-2 can enter your body through the conjunctiva of your eye. It then spreads throughout the body through the blood vessels present within your conjunctiva. Conjunctiva refers to the thin, clear membrane covering the front part of your eye as well as the inner parts of your eyelids.
Some studies suggest that conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye is a symptom of coronavirus infection in some people. While it is rare (estimated at around 1% to 3% infected people), a person suffering from COVID-19 can develop a pink eye. So, if you suffer from the symptoms of pink eye, contact your ophthalmologist to uncover the underlying reason. If you suffer from the following symptoms, two or fourteen days after virus exposure, then consult your doctor:
- Shortness of breath
The coronavirus infection can affect your lungs and lead to developing pneumonia. In severe cases, people affected by lung illness die.
Connection Between COVID-19 And SARS
According to a study published in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology, novel coronavirus can transmit through your eyes. It is a small-scale study based on the data obtained from 38 patients suffering from novel coronavirus infection in China. The study also uncovered that the infectious disease-causing virus, SARS-COV-2 acts like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus. SARS is the illness caused by another virus from the coronavirus family. According to studies, SARS transmission is high when there is a lack of proper eye protection. So, scientists indicate that eyes are one of the suspected routes of transmission and spread of the SARS virus. Since a link exists between SARS and COVID-19, it is possible to catch the virus through your eyes.
Tears: The Unlikely Source To Catch COVID-19
When studies indicate catching of COVID-19 through your eyes, is it possible to spread from tears? Since tears flow from your eyes, it is possible to doubt if it can lead to the spread of the disease. It is normal to think like that because when you suffer from pink eye, the discharge from your eyes can spread the infection. But, you never have to worry. Another study suggests that it is impossible to transmit coronavirus infection via tears. Researchers published the study in the journal Ophthalmology revealing the good news. The March 2020 study by researchers in Singapore came to the conclusion after studying a small sample. Tears collected from 17 COVID-19 patients detected no trace of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But, these patients showed a high population of the virus in their noses and throats.
While the news is reassuring it does not mean you have to relax when it comes to guarding your eyes, nose, mouth, and hands. Keep them clean and protected to avoid the spread of not coronavirus but also other harmful pathogens. With ample precautions, you can prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
New Procedures And Routine To Avoid Catching Covid-19 Through Your Eyes
We have discussed the possibility of catching COVID-19 through your eyes. In such a case, is it possible to visit an ophthalmologist for other eye problems? It is a common fear you may possess due to the pandemic situation. You never have to worry to visit the eye doctor for routine eye care or any serious needs. Like all medical professionals, eye doctors also follow strict hygiene and disinfection guidelines. So, if you are planning to visit an ophthalmologist, you have to follow new routines and procedures.
Routine For Eye Check-Up
With many countries trying to relax the lockdown rules, many clinics are gradually starting to function again. Here is the routine such clinics or eye care centers follow to avoid catching COVID-19 through your eyes:
- Encourage virtual telemedicine instead of in-person appointments. So, you can consult doctors over your phone or through video chat. If you have a smartphone or computer, then telemedicine is a good option to get a consultation for minor matters.
- When you opt for in-person appointments, then the medical staff will take several precautions to ensure you stay safe during the appointment. So, you can expect changes to the routine eye exam as well as procedures.
- Always wear a mask when you go out for your appointment. If you do not wear a mask, then the medical team provides one for you.
- You have to wait in the normal waiting room by following social distancing or you can wait outside in your car. Maintaining distance from other patients and office staff can protect you from a possible virus exposure that happens in a crowded waiting space.
- All clinics are trying to restrict the number of people entering the establishment. So, try to avoid bringing people with you. If you need someone, then try not to bring them into the building. Ask them to stay in the car.
- Before entering the building, the healthcare professionals check your temperature and ask you to wash your hands or use sanitizer.
- The ophthalmologists use a protective plastic breath shield on the slit lamp machine. This lamp machine is used for looking into your eyes. The eye doctor will also wear a mask, gloves, goggles, or shield to protect themselves and you from the virus transmission.
- You need to avoid speaking until the eye examination completes. After examination, you can ask questions and the eye doctor offers answers from a safe distance. Maintaining social distancing while talking is essential to avoid virus transmission.
Follow Certain Precautions To Avoid Catching COVID-19 Through Your Eyes
To protect others and avoid the spread of the virus, you need to follow certain precautions suggested by the WHO:
- Stay at home if the eye doctor’s visit is not an emergency.
- If you have a fever, cough, or have come in close contact with someone having these signs, then you need to inform your doctor’s office ahead of time. It will help them take the necessary steps while you visit.
- People who have the symptoms, but also experience severe eye problems, then you need to wait in a special room away from other patients. Maintain social distancing. Inform your doctor about the symptoms before arriving to help them take the right steps to avoid the spread of the virus. You as well as the staff at the clinic will have to wear additional protective equipment (like gloves, gown, and goggles).
- When you feel the urge to cough or sneeze during the eye examination, always move back from the slit lamp microscope machine used the eye doctor. Use a tissue to cover your face or bury your face in the crook of your arm to cough/sneeze. Wash your hands with soap and water right away to avoid virus transmission.
Emergency Eye Treatments During COVID-19
While everyone is taking precautions to ensure maximum protection avoid infections, you can contact ophthalmologists for eye emergencies. Eye doctors are always available to treat their patients who suffer from an emergency or urgent eye issues. So, they are always available to offer you eye injection as well as provide you with critical care. Contact your eye doctor or other medical professionals when you suffer from the following serious symptoms:
- You suffer from severe problems like macular degeneration, have diabetic retinopathy, or need to get regular eye injections
- You notice vision changes (for example blurriness, wavy, or blank spots in the field of your vision)
- When you suffer from an eye injury, even when the injury seems minor
- Observe flashes or floaters in your vision
- When you have trouble with vision (sudden lose vision)
- See redness in your eyes or have eye pain
- Observe additional symptoms like nausea, headache or vomiting
- When you see such serious symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
After Effects When You Catch COVID-19 Through Your Eyes
Coronavirus has a high possibility of infecting through your eyes just like the mouth and nose. So, when you come near an infected person, the virus can reach your eyes through the contaminated droplets released through coughing, sneezing, talking. The virus particles present in the spray coming from the infected person’s mouth or nose can reach your eyes. You can also contract the virus when you touch your eyes after touching a surface contaminated by the virus. When you catch COVID-19 through your eyes, it can negatively affect the mucous membranes of the organ. So, how can the coronavirus affect your eyes? Some patients develop pink eye or conjunctivitis due to SARS-CoV-2 infection in the eye.
It does not mean every person who suffers from a pink eye has coronavirus infection. It is a rare symptom affecting people. To confirm the presence or absence of the disease, getting a professional opinion is necessary. So, call your ophthalmologist to let them know your symptoms. Follow the instructions provided by the doctor. Remember, conjunctivitis is caused by a virus or bacteria. So, it can spread to others when they touch the runny or sticky discharge. It can also spread when you touch any object contaminated by the discharge from the eyes. Therefore, take ample precautions like washing and sanitizing your hands. Frequent hand washing can avoid eye infection. Also, never share items like towels, utensils, cups, or other personal items with other people.
Preventing Catching Of COVID-19 Through Your Eyes
Since there is a possibility of SARS-CoV-2 entering your body through eyes, you need to guard it. Safeguarding your eyes, mouth, face, and mouth along with your hands will slow the spread of the virus. Here are some of the steps you can take to keep your eyes safe. It also ensures good health during the coronavirus outbreak. Since novel coronavirus is a new virus, scientists are still trying to uncover the details. It has led to having serious concerns about the virus. You need to maintain caution and follow the steps to prevent catching of COVID-19 through your eyes.
Switch To Glasses To Avoid Catching COVID-19 Through Your Eyes
Most people who need glasses to see a switch to contact lens. It is because the contact lens offers comfort and convenience. While no evidence indicates that wearing a contact lens can put you at risk of coronavirus infection, it increases your chances of contracting the virus. It is because contact lens wearers tend to touch their eyes with their hands more often. Unlike other people, the possibility of transfer of the virus from the hands to eyes increases for contact lens wearers. So, try switching back to glasses for a while. Consider wearing glasses more often if you tend to touch your eyes with your hands. Using glasses instead of contacts reduces irritation. It will also make you pause before you touch your eyes.
Use Glasses For Protection
If you do not have corrective lenses, then opt for sunglasses when you go out. It shields your eyes from the infected respiratory droplets that can reach your eyes. While they may not offer 100% protection, it can reduce the droplets reaching your eyes. Wondering why it does not offer complete protection? It is because the virus can reach your eyes from the top, exposed sides, and bottom of the glasses. When you come in close contact with an infected person, the droplets can reach your eyes even when you wear glasses.
Experts believe opting for googles as it is a more effective alternative for good protection. The wraparound google avoids the viral droplets from reaching your eyes as it has no exposed sides. So, people who are caring for a sick person at home need to opt for googles instead of ordinary sunglasses to ensure they avoid catching COVID-19 through your eyes.
Stock Prescription Eye Medications
If you have eye problems, then it is better to stock on critical eye medications. Since the world is in lockdown, you cannot access all medications like before. So, stock up on essential medications, including eye drops or other medications as the supply can become limited. But, it is not as easy as it sounds. Some people buy medication using their insurance. In such cases, you can check if the insurance covers eye medications. Some insurance companies offer you medication supply for more than one month of essential eye medication like glaucoma drops. As coronavirus infection is now considered a pandemic, you can ask the insurers to get the necessary supply of medications.
If you have trouble getting medications, then ask your ophthalmologist or pharmacist for help to get approval from the insurance company. With assistance, you can get the necessary medications with ease. Never wait until the last moment to stock the medications.
Avoid Rubbing Of Eyes
People rub their eyes when they feel tired or focus on something for a long time. It is a natural habit, which is hard to shake off. But, you need to avoid rubbing your eyes to lower the risk of infection. If you feel an urge to rub your eyes or ease the itching, instead of using your hands, you can opt for a tissue. Opting for a tissue, even for adjusting the glasses prevents the transmission of the virus from your fingers to your eyes. Dry eyes can lead to rubbing. Instead of rubbing your eyes, you can use moisturizing drops. Include it in your routine to prevent dryness of your eyes.
Practice Hand Hygiene
The WHO has issued guidelines to prevent the transmission of the virus from one person to another. Practicing hand hygiene is the main guideline you need to follow. Keep your hands clean and free from harmful pathogens. So, wash your hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds. Before you touch your face, nose, mouth, or eyes, clean your hands. It is also essential before administering eye medicine. After touching your eyes, you need to wash your hands again. For good hand hygiene, using a hand sanitizer will help. It is good when you have no soap and water to keep your hands clean. So, opt for a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Ensure frequent washing of your hands. You must also follow contact lens hygiene. So, before touching the contact lens, wash your hands. Also, avoid touching or rubbing your face, mouth, or nose unnecessarily.
Social Distancing To Avoid Catching COVID-19 Through Your Eyes
Social distancing is another important guideline to follow to avoid the contaminated droplets from reaching your eyes. You need to maintain a distance of at least six meters from another person when you go out. It is because studies reveal that contaminated respiratory droplets can travel at least six meters. So, maintaining the distance from another person can help you avoid such contaminated droplets from reaching your body.
Wear A Mask
Many healthcare professionals and organizations like the WHO recommends the use of a face mask while going out. Wearing a non-medical mask while you go in public can prevent the unknowing spread of the disease. Many people are asymptomatic. So, they never realize they are suffering from the coronavirus infection. Such people must avoid spreading the disease to others. Therefore, it is better to wear a mask to protect others even when you show no signs of the disease. During the start of the disease, the WHO indicated that people must not opt for face masks unless they showed symptoms of sickness like coughing or fever. But, it proved fatal as many people, including health care professionals suffered from the infection.
You can opt for the best mask while going out. Depending on the risk you face, you can choose a mask for better protection. Medical masks like surgical and N95 respirators are suggested for healthcare professionals. N95 respirators are ideal for the medical professional who treat infected patients. So, it is advised to reserve an N95 respirator for healthcare professionals.
Eye Protection For Medical Professionals
You cannot ignore the possibility of the transmission of novel coronavirus infection through the eyes, all medical professionals need to protect their eyes. They need to opt for protective gear for the eyes. The PPE (personal protective equipment) comes with a well-fitted N95 mask, goggles, glasses, or a face shield to protect the eyes. It is essential for healthcare professionals who take care of infected patients. Apart from that, several medical bodies recommend eye care professionals to postpone their routine eye care visits. They must also avoid any elective procedures. Eye care professionals must only opt for emergency or urgent care for patients. Postponing the visits until scientists have a better understanding of the virus transmission is suggested. It helps understand the safety guidelines better.
With coronavirus infection affecting most of the countries around the world, the concern surrounding the disease is high. But, instead of panicking, you need to take the right steps and follow the guidelines suggested by the health professionals to reduce the risk of infection. Since the possibility of catching COVID-19 through your eyes exists, you need to follow good eye hygiene. Avoid rubbing your nose, eye, or mouth to avoid infection from affecting you. Also, you need to wash your hands frequently, use a face mask, and follow social distancing to limit infection spread. By following all the safety guidelines. you can remain safe and ward off the illness.View Article Sources