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Is it ok to wear contacts when you're sick?

Attention contact lens wearers of the world: To reduce the spread of the pandemic virus that causes Covid-19, experts suggest it maybe time to put your contact lenses on the shelf and dazzle the world with your frames.


Is it ok to wear contact lenses when you're sick? The short answer is no. When you’re fighting off a bug, the best thing you can do for your eyes is hold back from putting your contacts in. Rest is aways the first remedy to try when you aren’t feeling well. So that also means giving your eyes a break from contacts.


Trust me, I get it. I'll be the first to reach for contacts over glasses any day. The convenience and ease of contact lenses might normally be a saving grace. But, contacts can irritate your eyes when you’re sick. Catching a cold or the flu can make your body more susceptible to eye discomfort.


Wearing glasses can help you stop touching your face, a key way any virus is spread, including the novel coronavirus currently spreading across the world.



Contact lens users not only touch their eyes to put in and remove their lenses twice or more a day, they also touch their eyes and face much more than people who don't wear contacts, said Christine E. Coloma, RO (Registered Optician) with the Ontario College of Opticians.


While critical for any health professional taking care of patients with Covid-19, for the rest of us it's just another preventative way in which you can add a filter to help yourself stay away from coronavirus.


Can you get Covid-19 from the virus entering through the eye?


Theoretically, it's possible, but there's currently no proof of that. It's not likely you can get the novel coronavirus from the eye itself.


"It's possible, I guess, but I've always thought that that was a bit of a stretch," said infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventative medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recently issued new safety guidelines and suggestions encouraging contact lens wearers to make a switch to glasses or a least consider daily disposable contacts as preventative care.


The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) said that while there is no data indicating that those who wear contact lenses are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, it does not discourage people from following the AAO’s advice.



Regardless, this is a time to be conscientious about social distancing at 6 feet and practicing good self-hygiene -- washing hands (the right way) at every opportunity and not touching your face.


This is not the time to cut corners. Always wash your hands, always use hand sanitizer. Don't touch your face. Don't rub your eye. And disinfect your contact lenses or dispose of your dailies. If you keep wearing them at all.


What's more likely is that this new coronavirus could cause conjunctivitis, a highly contagious condition also known as pink eye. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the thin, transparent layer of tissue, called conjunctiva, that covers the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid. It causes redness, itchy watery eyes, and discharge.


If you still aren’t convinced and you Must Wear your Contact Lenses, Practice Good Hand Hygiene!


Good hand hygiene means washing your hands the recommended 20-30 seconds with soap and water before touching your eyes or your contact lenses. It’s also important to clean underneath your fingernails, as dirt and bacteria can get trapped there as well. Aside from putting in and taking out your contacts, you shouldn’t touch or rub your eyes when you’re sick. The less you touch your eyes, the less chance there is for germ transfer.


Another option to help minimize the risk of any germs entering the eye are daily disposables. It won't eliminate the chances completely, but it does lower the risk of contracting any bacteria in the eye. Put in a fresh pair in the morning and dispose at night.



And finally, aside from clean hands and disposable contacts, you also want to ensure that your contact lens accessories are also clean. That means replacing your contact lens case frequently. And remember to only use non-expired contact lens solution. Every solution comes with an expiry date. If you need help finding or determining if it's safe to use, call us. We're here to help.



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