Eye Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

Proper eye care during the pandemic

In order to reduce the risks of disease transmission, taking good care of the eyes is vital. These instructions for eye care should be strictly complied:

  • Touching or rubbing eyes must be avoided. Guarding the eyes as well as hands, nose and mouth can slow the spread of coronavirus. Since unwashed hands are source of viral contamination, it is highly recommended to frequently wash  hands with soap and water or hand sanitizers. Masks should be regularly worn, if applicable. During coughing or sneezing, mouth and nose must be fully covered. Not only respiratory tract, but virus droplets can also be occasionally transmitted through ocular secretions. Thus touching face, mouth and eyes should be avoided. Considering wearing glasses instead of lens to reduce eye irritation is also suggested.

  • Although it is rare condition, conjunctivitis might be a sign of COVID-19 disease. Besides typical respiratory illness, mild to moderate conjunctivitis only accounts for 1-2%. If patients are infected with SARS-CoV-2 and conjunctivitis is concurrently developed (often accompanied with respiratory symptoms), symptomatic treatment will be provided.

  • Currently, the use of antimalarial drugs which are chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients has limited clinical evidence to indicate significant correlations with irreversible maculopathy –a disease related to the central part of the retina, called macula which is associated with highly sensitive vision. However, in a review of published guidelines for the use of these 2 drugs as treatment for COVID-19 found that proposed doses worldwide exceeded the maximum daily dose considered safe for long-term therapy for rheumatic and other chronic diseases. Thus, the risk of irreversible maculopathy at these higher doses for short periods of time (usually 1-2 weeks) remains unknown. Patients should be informed of the potential for macular toxicity before starting therapy. A close monitoring for possible ocular abnormalities during receiving treatment is required. Furthermore, toxicity associated with current regimens must be evidently obtained from long-term clinical studies.

  • Wearing glasses and other protective devices may add a layer of protection. Although corrective eyeglasses or sunglasses can help shielding the eyes from infected respiratory droplets, they do not entirely protect the eyes from viral exposure. The virus can still reach the eyes from the open sides, tops and bottoms of the glasses. For a full facial protection, safety goggles or face-shield should be worn.

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