COVID-19 has caused an increased and warranted concern regarding hand-hygiene, and how that may affect the use of contact lenses. You may be wondering, is it still safe to use contacts given the COVID-19 circumstances?
FYidoctors wants to assure you that if you continue to use proper hygiene procedures, contact lenses remain safe to use. These procedures include properly washing your hands before and after touching both your contacts and your eyes and disinfecting your contact lenses regularly with every use.
Much of the concern surrounds the fact that contact lens wearers are more prone to touching their face. This can also be true for those who use spectacles, especially reading glasses, which can be set down and picked up multiple times during a day. Proper hand washing, surface cleansing, and washing your glasses are important precautions to minimize any risk of contamination.
FYidoctors has compiled a how-to list of the proper procedures to follow when putting on your eyewear. Please note that these procedures should always be adhered to—whether COVID-19 is present in our environments or not.
We can’t stress enough the importance of hand washing. Wash your hands before you put in your contacts and before you remove them. The Government of Canada has stated proper hand washing means 20 seconds carefully with water and soap, including the back of your hands, palms, between your fingers and under fingernails. Dry your hands with unused towels to avoid the introduction of bacteria before you touch your eyes. Turn off the tap using paper towel. Wash your hands frequently, throughout the day.
If you use daily disposable contacts, throw them away after one use. If you reuse your contact lenses, follow the manufacturer instructions on how to regularly disinfect them.
Consistent with the guidance given under normal circumstance, don’t use your contacts if you have cold or flu-like symptoms. Touching your eyes and contacts will only aggravate this area, and potentially spread infection, such as conjunctivitis, to your eyes.
If you become sick and discontinue contact use, or if you wear glasses as your form of correction, proper precautions must be followed to clean spectacles. Viruses like COVID-19 can exist on hard surfaces for long periods of time. Often we are removing our glasses throughout the day (more so for those with reading glasses), so it is essential that they are disinfected regularly. The safest way to clean and sanitize spectacles is with warm (not hot) water and dish soap. Avoid harsh cleaners that contain ammonia and isopropyl alcohol, which could potentially destroy the coating on your glasses.
Both The University of Waterloo’s Centre for Ocular Research & Education and Alcon, a contacts lens manufacturer, have released evidence-based statements on the subject of COVID-19 and contacts. They reiterate contacts are safe to use, however, only when the proper hygiene precautions are followed, such as properly washing your hands before and after touching contacts and disinfecting your contact lenses.
While it is an understandably stressful time, we want to assure you that regular contact use is safe with proper hygiene and precautions. These procedures should be followed regardless of COVID-19. Safe hygiene is necessary to protect yourself from viruses.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to an FYidoctors clinic near you to learn more about contact lens safety or if you have any questions or concerns.
FYidoctors is committed to providing you with insight on the latest eye care information and resources as the COVID-19 situation evolves.
For more information on FYidoctors’ response, visit our COVID-19 information page.
The Centre for Ocular Research & Education: COVID-19 and contact lens wear: what do eye care practitioners and patients need to know?
The Government of Canada: Reduce the Spread of COVID-19