While people are hearing about mouth, nose and hand protection to stay safe from COVID-19, many may be overlooking protection for a key body part-their eyes. The eyes are an important part of the body to protect because, like the nose and mouth, they are mucous membranes where germs can infect the body. That is the reason why the guidelines issued from time to time on Covid-19 mentions that one should refrain from touching the eyes without washing their hands.
We are aware that Coronavirus infection spreads when an infected person’s droplets from his mouth or nose comes in contact with another person’s face, often when they cough, sneeze, or talk. Although it’s more likely to be infected by inhaling these droplets through your mouth or nose, they can also enter through your eyes, especially if you touch something that has viral particles on it and then rub your eyes. Doctors have cautioned about the importance of covering your mouth and nose to reduce spread of COVID-19, but we should remember that our eyes are also an entry point into our bodies and we should take utmost precautions in order to reduce the risk of infection. Experts say that covering your eyes, especially if you are a healthcare worker, is a wise move to prevent infection.
Eye protection, in addition to wearing face masks, isn’t necessary for everyone but if you are on the front lines of battling COVID-19 especially doctors, health workers, police etc or are caring for someone who has the disease, you should consider wearing goggles or wraparound glasses to shield your eyes. Regular glasses or sunglasses aren’t protective as they have too many gaps.
Dr. Thomas Steinemann of the American Academy of Ophthalmology said on CNN news, “While transmission of the virus is most likely through the nose or mouth, it’s still possible to get COVID-10 through your eyes”.
Scientists at Italy’s National Institute for Infectious Diseases studied the symptoms of a 65-year-old woman who developed COVID-19 after traveling from Wuhan, China. When the patient developed an eye infection called conjunctivitis, the researchers swabbed her eye regularly and found that the virus remained present for up to 21 days. Their study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggested the eyes could be an entryway for the virus as well as a source of infection.
Some experts recommend that people who wear contact lenses switch to glasses so that they will not touch their eyes as often. The research team also issued concern that ophthalmologists wear personal protective equipment when examining patients.