Wearing contact lenses is completely safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - but now, more than ever, hygiene is paramount.
To say that life feels a bit different these days would be an understatement. We're having to change our daily routines and ways of life in order to look after ourselves and our loved ones. However, especially during this time of uncertainty, there can be a lot of unreliable stories out there, and knowing what to trust can be challenging. Recent reports have stated that contact lens wearers should switch to glasses during the COVID-19 outbreak. But, as the General Optical Council confirms, that couldn't be further from the truth.
You know how we feel about eye health: it’s at the forefront of everything we do, and the very foundation that Vision Direct was built on. Our expert opticians have been working around the clock to study the ways coronavirus (COVID-19) might affect the eyes, and how to best protect ourselves. So, let us be clear first and foremost, the global expert advice is that contact lens wear remains a safe and highly effective form of vision correction. Rest assured that we are following all scientific studies really closely, and are striving to keep our community informed with the best quality advice.
Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene
Your eyes could play a really important role in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak in the UK for a simple reason: you touch them a lot, often without realising. You’ve probably heard all about the importance of washing your hands frequently for 20 seconds throughout the day: this especially applies to contact lens wearers. We all know that this is the time to up the ante on the hygiene front, especially when handling contact lenses.
Contact lenses and protective equipment
Not only contact lenses are safe to wear, but they could also be a valuable preventative measure for many at the moment: from key workers, whose glasses would make protective equipment uncomfortable or impractical, to those working from home, who want to avoid touching their face too much - as glasses often need a lot of fiddling around. Contact lenses are the least obstructive form of vision correction to wear under maskings, visors and other PPE (personal protective equipment) because they don't require any adjustments or wiping down during the day (as opposed to glasses). But their benefits are not only practical: contact lenses offer better clarity and seamless peripheral vision, which is important for key workers such as NHS doctors and nurses.
Lucas Fernández, a senior nurse at University College Hospital confirms that 'wearing glasses underneath a visor makes things a lot more complicated for those of us on the frontline needing vision correction. Protective equipment is not made with breathable materials, making glasses fog up and slide down the nose - and the process of wiping them down or pushing them up at various points of the day is long and complex. We have to disinfect our hands, the mask and our glasses every single time we touch them, even if it's with gloves. But with contacts, you can safely insert/remove them at home and not have to worry about them during the day."
8 important hygiene tips for all contact lens wearers:
- Remember to clean and disinfect the area you are using to insert/remove your lenses and ensure the surface is dry. Try to do this in front of a mirror that is not above a sink to reduce the risk of the lens falling and absorbing bacteria from water residue.
- Sorry to repeat ourselves, but this one’s really important: wash your hands really well with antibacterial soap that is free from perfume. Dry them with a paper towel that you can throw away, as it prevents contamination you may get from fibres on clothing for example.
- Go for daily disposable lenses, as they reduce the risk of transmission and offer a more hygienic solution, reducing the risk of missing any part of the cleaning process with reusable lenses. There’s a lot to worry about hygiene-wise at the moment, so keeping your contacts fuss-free is a good way to go about it. If you want to make the switch from monthlies/two-weeklies to dailies, just reach out to one of our customer service experts, who can help out.
- Limit contact with the eye by checking to make sure that the lens is the correct way round before applying. Check that all the edges are facing upwards in a nice bowl shape when on the tip of your finger: if the edges point out slightly or appear sharp, it is an indicator the lens is inside out. Doing this saves you from going through the process of having to remove the lens and check again. If you have to touch solution bottles or anything else, always make sure you stop and wash your hands before continuing.
- Using eye drops? They’re also safe to use, but make sure the tip of the bottle does not touch the eye itself. Hold it up a few centimeters above so the eye drop can fall into the eye with no contact.
- This is a rule your optician has no-doubt stressed before, but you should never share contact lenses or cases, even if you experience no symptoms. This doesn’t rule out the possibility of you transmitting the virus.
- If you still want to go with reusable lenses, you need to be extra vigilant with your cleaning and disinfecting. As above, ensure your hands and surfaces are disinfected, before rubbing and rinsing the lens for 30 seconds on both sides, before placing it into your clean case. Allow the lenses to soak and restore for a minimum of 4-6 hours depending on your solution type.
- Clean your contact lens case with solution every time you take your lenses out, using your fingertip as an exfoliator to rub any excess debris from inside and always let it air dry. Avoid any other substances to clean your case such as soap or other disinfectants, as they are unsafe to use on the eyes.