Eye Hygiene and COVID-19 – What You Need To Know

by Lance Kugler, MD

Being safe and being prepared during this time of uncertainty is of the utmost importance. No matter where you are or where you live chances are sickness has impacted your day-to-day life. At Kugler Vision in Omaha, Nebraska, we are sensitive to this and want to provide advice and support to help you stay healthy and keep your eyes safe.**

Contact Lenses and Glasses in Emergencies

In an ever-changing world, it is important to be alert and ready. This can be hard to do if you are relying on prosthetic eyewear like glasses or contact lenses to navigate your daily life. I’m sure all of us who have ever had to deal with the hassles and glasses of contacts know well the feeling of vulnerability that accompanies having to fumble around on the dresser when you wake up to get your glasses just so you can see. Or being out and about and losing a contact lens. But what about cold and flu season? What risks do these temporary vision correction devices hold? 

Contact Lenses and Cold and Flu

When life seems fast-paced and ever-changing, it’s important to start thinking about and preparing for the unpredictable. It’s time to consider how prepared you are to protect and prevent yourself from catching or worsening the symptoms of any of the following: a cold, the flu, allergies, or any other communicable illnesses. Taking the proper safety measures during cold, flu, and allergy season should be of high priority. It’s also important to note that during the current national pandemic there has been a surprising connection between the COVID-19 and our eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends making the switch to your backup glasses is a safer and healthier alternative to your contact lenses.

Consistently touching your face due to contact lenses puts you at a higher risk of catching an illness during cold and flu season. Excessive washing of the hands and an increased focus on hygiene is one way to avoid illness, and eliminating the need for contact lenses directly reduces the need to touch your face.

Contact Lenses, Seasonal Allergies, and Contact Lens Intolerance

In addition to being a germ magnet (watch out for rubbing your eyes when your contacts bother you!)– contact lenses can cause a boatload of other issues. During cold, flu, and allergy season our eyes can become irritated due to the use of germ-covered contact lenses. These small plastic discs we use on a daily basis can collect and “soak up” anything our fingers touch like a sponge. If proper hygiene isn’t taken seriously while using contacts you could increase your risk of acquiring a serious eye infection. Wearing contact lenses can also result in a common and dangerous side effect known as contact lens intolerance (CLI) — the point at which the eye can no longer tolerate the contact lens and begins to show signs of rejection like:

  • Dryness, itchiness, or scratchiness
  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Inflammation
  • Pain, stinging, or other discomforts when applying contact lenses that worsens over time
  • Corneal abrasions
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Rationing contact lens time – inability to wear contact lenses all day
  • Resorting to glasses

Don’t allow your eyes to suffer to the point of complete contact lens intolerance (CLI), a painful and progressive condition that occurs when the eye begins to reject your contact lenses. If you are experiencing the symptoms of CLI, it’s time to start looking for another solution.

What Are the Hygiene Risks of Glasses?

You may be wondering– what about my glasses? While it is likely true that glasses (as long as they are reasonably well cleaned) are less of a hygiene risk than contact lenses, they are not without risks. If you find yourself constantly touching your face to push up your glasses, this carries risk of germ transmission unless you have washed your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds prior each time. The risk is greater for those dependant on reading glasses, who often take of their readers and place them on various surfaces throughout the day before putting them right back on.

What are my options?

If contact lenses are your first choice, there are ways to make contact lens use safer. First of all proper hygiene and lens sterilization procedures are mandatory. This means washing hands, cleaning surfaces, and handling lenses the proper way. It also means replacing lenses on the appropriate schedule. Daily disposable lenses are the safest contact lens technology because they are replaced with a fresh pair of lenses every day.

Vision correction procedures, such as LASIK, are also an excellent option. In fact there are 7 different procedures available to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses.

Schedule A Virtual Consultation Today

Our experts at Kugler Vision are here to help you achieve crisp, clear vision through our new virtual consultations. You can book a virtual consultation from the comfort of your own home with Dr. Kugler by calling our team at 402.558.2211. If you have questions about LASIK or any of the laser vision correction services we provide, please contact us. In addition to virtual consultations, we also are implementing some new and exciting technology that allows our patients to receive virtual post-operative care from the comfort of their homes as well. **Additional Note:

Please note, we are not epidemiologists or infection control experts. Please use this blog as a reference as you see fit, but call your doctor if you have additional questions or concerns.

 

kugler vision doctor lance kugler

Lance Kugler, MD, is a specialist in vision correction surgery and CEO of Kugler Vision. A proud Omaha native, he is passionate about improving lives through clear vision. Dr. Kugler serves on several national boards, and his practice is recognized internationally as a center of excellence. Dr. Kugler is one of the original founders of the Refractive Surgery Alliance, an international organization comprised of over 350 of the world’s leading vision correction surgeons; he also served as its first president. In 2019, Dr. Kugler was selected as a TEDx speaker, and delivered a talk in Omaha about the worldwide epidemic of nearsightedness and refractive solutions. Dr. Kugler is an associate professor of Refractive Surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Truhlsen Eye Institute, has been published in many medical journals, and participates in numerous clinical studies to advance the field of vision correction surgery. Dr. Kugler and his wife are proud parents to five active kids. When he has a spare moment, he enjoys skiing, tennis, travel, and fine coffee.

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