In early March, the American Academy of Ophthalmology released guidelines related to coronavirus and eye safety, including a recommendation for those who wear contact lenses to consider switching to glasses during the pandemic.
However, according to a new study published in Contact Lens & Anterior Eye, there is no evidence to suggest that individuals increase their risk of contracting COVID-19 by wearing contacts as opposed to glasses.
In the original guidelines from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, they acknowledged the lack of evidence on the subject, but emphasized that contact lens wearers may touch their eyes more than the average person. Because coronavirus can likely spread through the eyes — via touch or infected respiratory particles in the air — more frequent touching of the eyes could increase the risk of infection. The guidelines also suggested that glasses might add a layer of protection for the wearer by shielding the eyes from virus particles in the air.
Instead of avoiding contact lenses entirely, the authors of this new study in Contact Lens & Anterior Eye advise people who wear contacts to focus on good hygiene habits such as regular hand-washing.
According to a press release about the study, the takeaways are:
- Individuals can continue wearing contact lenses
- Good hygiene habits are key
- Regular eyeglasses and spectacles do not protect against the virus
- Unwashed hands should stay away from the face
- Temporarily stop wearing contact lenses if you are sick
Similarly, on April 8th, the CDC released guidance on coronavirus and contact lenses that did not recommend contact wearers to switch to glasses.