Contact Lens Care During COVID-19
- Posted on: Aug 17 2020
Contact Lens Care During COVID-19
Proper contact lens care is essential to keep your eyes healthy and get the most use out of your lenses. This is especially true now, as evidence shows that COVID-19 can be spread through the eyes. The best way to keep your eyes safe is to avoid wearing contact lenses, however, if you cannot avoid contacts, there are additional precautions you can take.
Types of Contact Lenses
Contact lenses are generally broken down into 2 categories: Rigid Gas Permeable and Soft.
Rigid Gas Permeable lenses are made out of a hard plastic, and usually worn daily for about a year.
Soft contact lenses are made out of pliable plastics called hydrogels. There are a large variety of soft contact lenses available. Your eye doctor will make a recommendation based on the size and shape of your cornea, as well as your visual needs.
Contact Lens Replacement Options
Soft contact lenses are available in a variety of replacement options: daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly. Most contact lenses are designed to be worn during the day, and removed at night. Daily contact lenses are disposed of after one use, while weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly lenses are stored overnight in a disinfecting solution. Some monthly or extended wear contact lenses are designed to be worn overnight, due to their higher oxygen permeability.
Daily contact lenses are the best option because they do not need to be cleaned. They are sterile until the package is opened, so as long as your hands are clean, the contacts will be too. Because you wear a fresh pair every day, there is no concern about disinfecting them after use either. Additionally, many wearers find daily contacts more comfortable. If you are currently wearing weekly or monthly lenses, call your eye doctor to discuss making the switch to dailies.
Cleaning and Storing Lenses
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), hydrogen peroxide-based systems for cleaning, disinfecting, and storing contact lenses should be effective against the virus that causes COVID-19. These systems use a specially designed case that reacts with hydrogen peroxide to clean and disinfect the contact lens. It is very important to follow the directions provided by the manufacturer. If used incorrectly, hydrogen peroxide can burn the eye, causing serious eye damage. Lenses must be stored in the case for 4-6 hours or as indicated on the bottle. This allows the solution time to convert to saline, which will not harm the eye. Hydrogen peroxide based disinfecting solution is commonly sold under the brand name Clear Care, but generic brands of this solution exist as well. Do not try to use regular hydrogen peroxide to clean your lenses, as the potency will differ greatly from the formulas designed for use with contact lenses and may damage the lenses or cause eye injury.
The CDC states that there is not enough evidence to determine efficacy of multipurpose contact lens solution against COVID-19 at this time.
Never use tap water to clean your contact lenses. Tap water may contain microscopic germs that can lead to serious eye infections or blindness. These types of germs can live in salt water and chlorinated water, so it is important to remove contacts before showering, swimming, or any other water exposure.
Wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling contact lenses to minimize risk of infection. Use a clean, lint free towel to dry your hands completely before handling contacts.
Never put contacts in your mouth. Do not use saliva to clean or moisturize contact lenses.
If you can wear glasses, consider switching for the time being. While there is no evidence to suggest that contact lens wear poses a greater risk of contracting COVID-19, it is wise to find ways to minimize the number of times you touch your face. If you choose to wear contact lenses, proper hygiene is key to keeping yourself healthy. You can read more about COVID-19 and your eyes on our website. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, and stay tuned for weekly updates!
Written by: Gina Stafford COA, LDO, ABOC
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Protect Your Eyes, https://www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/protect-your-eyes.html
Conact Lens Care Systems and Solutions, https://www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/care-systems.html