The One CDC-Recommended Coronavirus Precaution You're Still Not Taking
If you're putting in your contact lenses anywhere you go, you could be at risk of COVID-19.
For people who wear contacts, taking those lenses out and cleaning them throughout the day is a routine done so frequently it's practically a reflex. However, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, how and where you put your contacts in could potentially put your health at risk.
Research suggests that coronavirus can be transmitted not only through respiratory droplets expelled through coughing, sneezing, and even talking, but also through ocular secretions—meaning anything that anything that comes in contact with your eyes could put you in harm's way. According to new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while washing your hands before putting in your contact lenses is a good place to start, a more thorough contact lens cleaning process will keep you safer in the long run. The CDC now recommends that, prior to removing a contact lens, the wearer should ensure that the surface below has been adequately disinfected, as well.
It's not just coronavirus you have to worry about—cleaning your bathroom counters can help you protect against other germs if you drop a lens. "Contact lens wearers have a higher risk of corneal infections and conjunctivitis (commonly known as pink eye) due to bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi," explains eye physician and surgeon Kevin Lee, MD, of Golden Gate Eye Associates in the Pacific Vision Eye Institute.
While Lee says that wearing glasses whenever possible may help reduce your coronavirus risk, if you can't bear the thought of ditching your contacts, he recommends washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, not sleeping in your contacts, throwing out contacts when they've expired, and avoiding touching your eyes or lenses after contact with any public surface.
However, those aren't the only changes to your eye care routine you should be making right now. The CDC notes that, as of now, the only method for contact lens cleaning deemed effective against coronavirus is using hydrogen peroxide-based solutions, which should be used not only to clean your lenses, but also your case. And for more advice from the CDC, This Is Exactly What the CDC Says You Should Do When Someone Comes Over