Is It Safe to Wear Contacts During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

The short answer from an ophthalmologist

Q: During the coronavirus pandemic, is it still safe to wear contact lenses? Should you not touch your contact lenses after being out and about?

A: As far as we know, wearing contacts does not put someone at a greater risk of getting COVID-19. But good hygiene and proper contact use is especially important right now.

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The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is thought to enter the body through your eyes, nose and mouth. So, in theory, if your hands become contaminated with coronavirus and you touch your eyes, you could become infected. Since people who wear contact lenses tend to touch their eyes more often, that’s where the concern is.

It’s important for people who wear contact lenses to wash and dry their hands before putting in, taking out or otherwise handling their contacts.

Change, discard, disinfect and store your contact lenses as directed by the manufacturer and your eye doctor.

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If you do find yourself rubbing your eyes frequently, consider switching to glasses. It’s also recommended that you stop using contacts if you become sick, especially with cold or flu symptoms.

Glasses may reduce face touching or eye rubbing, but there’s no evidence that they protect against COVID-19. They do protect against other types of infections, though.

Wearing contact lenses increases your risk of bacterial infections of the cornea (keratitis) that are unrelated to COVID-19 but can lead to permanent vision loss or blindness. Misusing contact lenses greatly increases that risk. So it’s also important to avoid:

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  • Wearing someone else’s contact lenses.
  • Sleeping in contacts.
  • Using the same pair longer than their intended lifespan.
  • Storing contact lenses in tap water.

Ophthalmologist Craig See, MD

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