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Coronavirus and Your Eyes – What You Should Know

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As coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads around the world, health professionals are demanding that people limit their personal risk of contracting the virus by thoroughly washing their hands, practicing social distancing, and not touching their nose, mouth, or eyes. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that the eyes play an important role in spreading COVID-19. 

Coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through droplets that an infected person sneezes or coughs out. These droplets can easily enter your body through the mucous membranes on the face, such as your nose, mouth, and yes — your eyes. 

But First, What Is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, causes mild to severe respiratory illness associated with fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Symptoms typically appear within 2 weeks of exposure. Those with acute cases of the virus can develop pneumonia and other life-threatening complications. 

Here's what you should know: 

Guard Your Eyes Against COVID-19 

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes. Although we all engage in this very normal habit, try to fight the urge to touch your eyes. If you absolutely must, first wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Tears carry the virus. Touching tears or a surface where tears have fallen can spread coronavirus. Make sure to wash your hands after touching your eyes and throughout the day as well.
  • Disinfect surfaces. You can catch COVID-19 by touching an object or surface that has the virus on it, such as a door knob, and then touching your eyes. 

Coronavirus and Pink Eye

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, refers to an inflammation of the membrane covering the front of the eyeball. Conjunctivitis is characterized by red, watery, and itchy eyes. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can be spread by coughing and sneezing, too.

According to a recent study in China, viral conjunctivitis may be a symptom of COVID-19. The study found conjunctival congestion in 9 of the 1,099 patients (0.8%) who were confirmed to have coronavirus. 

If you suspect you have pink eye, call your eye doctor in Mansfield right away. Given the current coronavirus crisis, we ask patients to call prior to presenting themselves at the office of Dr. Cameron Smith, as it will allow the staff to assess your condition and adequately prepare for your visit.

Contact Lenses or Eyeglasses?

Many people who wear contact lenses are thinking about switching to eyeglasses for the time being to lower the threat of being infected with coronavirus.

Wearing glasses may provide an extra layer of protection if someone coughs on you; hopefully that infected droplet will hit the lens and not your eye. However, one must still be cautious, as the virus can reach the eyes from the exposed sides, tops and bottoms around your frames. Unlike specialized safety goggles, glasses are not considered a safe way to prevent coronavirus.

Contact Lenses and COVID-19

If you wear contacts, make sure to properly wash your hands prior to removing or inserting them. Consider ordering a 3 to 6 month supply of contact lenses and solution; some opticals provide home delivery of contact lenses and solutions. At this stage there is no recommendation to wear daily lenses over monthlies.

Don't switch your contact lens brand or solution, unless approved by your optometrist or optician.

Regularly Disinfect Glasses 

Some viruses such as coronavirus, can remain on hard surfaces from several hours to days. This can then be transmitted to the wearer's fingers and face. People who wear reading glasses for presbyopia should be even more careful, because they usually need to handle their glasses more often throughout the day, and older individuals tend to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 complications. Gently wash the lenses and frames with warm water and soap, and dry your eyeglasses using a microfiber cloth. 

Stock up on Eye Medicine

It's a good idea to stock up on important medications, including eye meds, in order to get by in case you need to be quarantined or if supplies run short. This may not be possible for everyone due to insurance limitations. If you cannot stock up, make sure to request a refill as soon as you're due and never wait until the last minute to contact your pharmacy. 

It is important that you continue to follow your doctor’s instructions for all medications.

Digital Devices and Eyestrain

At times like this, people tend to use digital devices more than usual. Take note of tiredness, sore eyes, blurry vision, double vision or headaches, which are symptoms of computer vision syndrome if they are exacerbated by extensive use of digital devices, and might indicate a need for a new prescription in the near future. This usually isn't urgent, but if you're unsure, you can call our eye doctor's office.

Children and Digital Devices

During this time your children may end up watching TV and using computers, tablets and smartphones more frequently and for more extended periods too. Computer vision syndrome, mentioned above, can affect children as well. We recommend limiting screen time to a maximum of 2 hours per day for children, though it's understandably difficult to control under the circumstances. 

Try to get your child to take a 10 to 15 minute break every hour, and stop all screen time for at least 60 minutes before sleep. 

Children and Outdoor Play

Please follow local guidelines and instructions regarding outdoor activities for your children. If possible, it's actually good for visual development to spend 1-2 hours a day outside.

 

From all of us at Texas State Optical in Mansfield, we wish you good health and please stay safe. 

TARRANT COUNTY EXECUTIVE ORDER IN EFFECT 06.26.2020 6:00PM THROUGH 08.03.2020 6:00AM


HEALTH AND SAFETY POLICY

  1. FACE COVERING REQUIRED IN ORDER TO ENTER AND REMAIN ON PREMISIS. All persons over the age of ten (10), including employees, customers, visitors, invitees, and contractors (“patrons”), who enter this business must wear a face mask covering over their nose and mouth. The CDC advises face coverings for people 2 years or older. Face coverings may include homemade masks, scarfs, bandanas, or a handkerchief. Tarrant County residents should continue to maintain social distancing of at least six feet while outside their home.
    • The requirement of a face covering does not apply if covering the nose and mouth poses a significant mental or physical health risk to the individual.
  2. SOCIAL DISTANCING PROTOCALS. Even with the use of appropriate face
    coverings, individuals should maintain six (6) feet of social distancing whenever
    possible.
    • Employees should not work within six (6) feet of one another, except to the extent necessary to provide services.
    • Patrons should maintain six (6) feet of separation from other individuals outside their household, to the extent feasible when inside the business premises.
    • Patrons of the business queuing or waiting inside or on the premises of the business must maintain six (6) feet of separation from other individuals outside their household.
  3. EXCEPTIONS. The requirement of a face covering also does not apply when an individual is consuming a food or beverage or receiving a service where the wearing of a face covering would impair the performance of the service.
  4. VIOLATIONS. Patrons who do not wear a face covering will be asked to leave the premises and will not be provided goods or services until the face covering requirements are followed.
  5. NOTICE AND SIGNAGE. Notice of this Health and Safety Policy will be posted in a conspicuous location of the business.

Thank you for your support and understanding during these unprecedented times. We hope to be able to continue to provide excellent care and service.