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COVID19: Protecting our eyes from the virus

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By Dr Damien Gatinel

Our eyes can play an important role in the spread and prevention of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Using extensive research in the field along with ophthalmologist Dr Adrien Mazharian we can answer some vital questions regarding our eyes’ health and offer useful advice on how best to preserve it during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Our eyes can play an important role in the spread and prevention of this novel coronavirus pandemic.

While masks can protect the mouth and nose from infection by Covid-19, they leave our eyes exposed and vulnerable.

According to studies by Chinese experts, one way to contract the virus through the eyes is when a sick person coughs or speaks nearby, and viral particles are transmitted from the mouth or nose to the face of another person.

The other person is more likely to inhale these droplets through the mouth or nose (if not wearing a mask), but these droplets can also make their way into our eyes if exposed.

In research findings, I found no evidence to suggest that wearing contact lenses increases the risk of infection with Covid-19.

To date, it has also not been scientifically proven that prescription glasses provide sufficient eye protection against the virus.

To protect our eyes’ health, and in line with the recommendations of international ophthalmology associations, it is recommended that, other than abiding by general hygiene recommendations, we avoid rubbing our eyes, but if unavoidable, use a suitable cleansing wipe and/or wash them with physiological saline (after washing hands).

We should never use gloves as they can also be contaminated, disinfect the frame of the glasses and clean the lenses with a damp microfiber cloth twice a day.

Then we must wash our hands, which we should also always do before putting on contact lenses.

Last but not least, it is very important to stop wearing lenses if diagnosed with Covid-19 or if symptoms appear.

 

The writer is a world leader in his field and Head of Ophthalmology at the Adolphe de Rothschild Hospital, Paris

The hospital is now accessible to Cypriot patients through its local representative iMER Medical Services