COVID-19 and Contact Lenses: What You Need to Know

With the emergence of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 , we’re navigating a strange new world. This is especially true in regard to health, whether it’s our own or that of our patients.

At Lake Lazer Eye Center, we are in the business of giving people their freedom from glasses and contacts, but the pandemic has introduced a new wrinkle into the decision to get LASIK surgery or another permanent vision correction procedure. Prospective patients are now understandably more curious about getting away from contact lenses to reduce infection risks in their daily lives.

That’s because of the nature of communicable diseases: the passage of infection through mucous membranes in the nose, mouth and eyes. Contact lens use naturally increases exposure to these membranes as users insert, remove and even adjust their lenses every day.

Can I get COVID-19 from contact lenses?

COVID-19 research is still evolving and much is unknown about how the virus is transmitted. While we don’t yet know to what extent the use of contact lenses affects the risk of contracting the virus, we do know that our hands come in direct contact with artificial lenses, which come in direct contact with the mucous membranes of the eye. 

Here are three major ways patients are choosing to mitigate their exposure to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

1. Avoid touching your face.

By some estimates, we touch our face hundreds of times each day, often without realizing we’re doing it. About half the time, these touches are to the mouth, nose or eyes. It’s easy to tell yourself to simply cease this behavior but remember: Face-touching is often an unconscious behavior!

To reduce the exposure of mucous membranes to infections such as the coronavirus through touching, follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and wear a mask. This not only helps prevent spread to others but serves as a physical barrier between your hand and your mouth and nose. While it doesn’t protect your eyes from touching, it may help make you aware of unconscious behavior such as face-touching.

2. Wash hands frequently.

Proper handwashing is the most effective way to protect yourself from infection and communicable disease. This is especially true for people who wear contact lenses, since the care and use of a contact lens greatly increase direct contact with the eye.

Remember to wash your hands before and after inserting or removing your contact lenses, as well as before and after contact lens cleaning. It goes without saying that handwashing is necessary after restroom use, shopping, picking up or taking out trash, handling pets or any other contact with dirty or potentially contaminated surfaces.

3. Eliminate one of your biggest risk factors.

The pandemic has greatly increased the interest in laser eye surgery, including LASIK, ZEISS SMILE, PRK and other vision correction services. People understand the link between mucous membranes and disease spread, and that knowledge has driven them to end their dependence on contact lenses through LASIK. The one-time exposure during a sterile procedure is very low risk when compared to a lifetime of daily contact lens use, so consider a permanent solution to the contact lens problem.

ALERT: DO NOT make an eye appointment if you are sick or have been in contact with someone who is sick. Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to influenza and other illnesses: fever, sore throat, cough, fatigue, body aches, chills and a loss of smell and taste. If you experience these symptoms and suspect you contracted COVID-19, ask your general practitioner about testing.

If COVID-19 has inspired you to seek a more permanent solution to vision correction, Lake Lazer Eye Center can help you determine if you’re a candidate for a LASIK procedure. We have always maintained a thoroughly sterile, top-notch surgical suite and have taken additional, CDC-recommended measures to further improve the safety of our lobby and reception areas. Call us at (586) 792-3891 or use our online contact form to request an eye exam to see if you’re a candidate for permanent vision correction.