As information about COVID-19 comes at a furious pace, at times offering conflicting and confusing advice, the New Mexico Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Ophthalmology want to share what we know right now about protecting your vision and your health during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. AVOID TOUCHING YOUR EYES: By now you’ve heard about the importance of hand washing, coughing into your elbow, and keeping your hands away from your face and eyes. The last one is easier said than done, right? Here’s a suggestion, switch from contact lenses to glasses for the time being. Substituting glasses for lenses can decrease irritation and make you pause before touching your eyes. If you continue wearing contact lenses, follow standard hygiene practices to limit your chances of infection.
2. PINK EYE IS A COVID-19 SYMPTOM, BUT IT’S RARE: Studies show about 1 to 2 percent of reported coronavirus cases show symptoms of conjunctivitis, better known as pink eye. If you or a family member gets pink eye, don’t panic, especially if you’re not experiencing the more common coronavirus-related symptoms, such as a dry cough, shortness of breath and fever. Viral conjunctivitis is very common, plus it’s allergy season. Mild cases of conjunctivitis can usually be managed at home with cold compresses and artificial tears. If symptoms continue or become severe, consult with your doctor to determine if you need an in-person office visit.
3. THE MALARIA DRUGS BEING STUDIED TO TREAT CORONAVIRUS ARE UNLIKELY TO DAMAGE THE EYES IN THE SHORT TERM: Patients who rely on hydroxychloroquine to treat autoimmune conditions, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, rarely experience eye damage.