We want to provide the latest science on the use of contact lenses during this COVID-19 pandemic. A new study published in the March 2020 edition of Ophthalmology on COVID-19 patients found that there was no evidence of the virus in tear samples. Recognizing that this is very early data and with a small representative sample size, the study suggests a low risk of ocular transmission which is good news. It is, however, certainly time to reinforce rigorous hygiene with contact lens wear. Without further evidence to the contrary, the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) believes that contact lenses can still be safely worn as long as people follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance on hand washing as well as their optometrist’s strict contact lens hygiene protocols. The research literature is clear on how to prevent contact lens infections of all kinds, such as bacteria, viral and fungal diseases.
Contact lens wearers must:
- Wash hands thoroughly, at least 20 seconds with soap and water, and dry hands completely before handling contact lenses and touching your face.
- Use daily disposable contact lenses if possible.
- If solutions are required, use them appropriately. Specifically, do not top-up or re-use solutions.
- Replace cases monthly or more frequently. Rinse wipe and air-dry contact lens cases every day.
- Do not wear contact lenses when you are ill.
- Do not sleep in your contact lenses unless it is medically necessary.
For more information on how to prevent infections, please see the CDC’s guidelines on Hand-washing and Nail Hygiene.
In a time of constant uncertainty and bad news, we see this as a ray of hope for practitioners and their patients that still need to live functional and fulfilling lives.