Surprising Ties Between Coronavirus and Your Eyes

by | Mar 13, 2020 | Science | 0 comments


Guarding your eyes – as well as your hands and mouth – can be critical in helping slow the spread of COVID-19.

Coronavirus can cause mild to severe respiratory illness.  The latest updates from the CDC, COVID-19 seems to be of the type of virus that spread easily and sustainably.

Coronavirus can spread through the eyes.  It is important to limit eye exposure.  You can become infected by touching something that has the virus on it (tabletop or doorknob) then touching your eyes.

People who have coronavirus can also spread the illness through their tears.  Touching tears or a surface where tears have landed can be another portal to infection.

Recommendations by the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

  1. If you wear contact lenses, consider switching to glasses for a while.  If you don’t have any glasses, we can help you get an updated pair.
  2. Wearing glasses can add a layer of protection. Glasses can shield your eyes from infected respiratory droplets.  If you are caring for a sick person, safety goggles is the stronger defense.
  3. Avoid rubbing your eyes – the virus can live on surfaces and can be transferred by touching an infected surface such as a doorknob or table, then touching your eyes.
  4. Stock up on prescription eye medications, such as glaucoma drops so that you’ll have enough to get by if you are quarantined or if supplies become limited during an outbreak.
  5. If you are due for your eye exam, don’t skip it but take precautions. Your eye doctor follows strict hygiene and disinfection guidelines.  However if you are sick, it’s important to stay home.

Social distancing is important.  If you are around a sick person with the coronavirus, the particles can pass via the respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneeze.  These droplets can enter through your mouth or nose, as well as your eyes.

As always*:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • You should especially wash your hands before eating, after using the restroom, sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.
  • If you can’t get to a sink, use a hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face — particularly your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • If you cough or sneeze, cover your face with your elbow or a tissue. If you use a tissue, throw it away promptly. Then go wash your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people. If you think someone has a respiratory infection, it’s safest to stay 6 feet away.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces and items in your house, such as doorknobs and counter tops.

*The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)