Coronavirus and Your Eyes

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THE WEEKLY VIEW

Mountain View Eye Center’s Weekly Blog

The Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has many of us nervous about face to face interaction with others, including visits to the doctor. Mountain View Eye Center understands these concerns, and we have taken many steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff and patients. In this blog, we’ll discuss how Coronavirus affects the eyes and what the doctors at Mountain View Eye Center are doing to keep our staff and patients safe. 

Woman with light eyes wearing maskCan Coronavirus be spread through your eyes?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)(2020), coronavirus can be spread through the eyes. This transmission can occur when an infected person coughs or talks, causing virus particles to travel through the air and enter the mouth, nose or eyes of another person. Additionally, coronavirus can spread to the eyes by coming into contact with an infected object, such as a handrail or counter top, and then touching the eye. Hand washing is crucial to minimize the spread of the virus, and care should be taken not to touch your face or eyes. CDC guidelines state that you should wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, especially after you have been in a public place. If soap and water are not available,  you can use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. 

 

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus in the eye?

While experts are still collecting information about all of the symptoms of Coronavirus, the AAO states that the virus may cause conjunctivitis, or viral pink eye. Symptoms of pink eye may include:

  • Redness of the white part of the eye
  • Itching or burning
  • Watering or discharge, which may be clear, white, yellow or green
  • Crusting of the eyelids
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Feeling like something is stuck in the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision

If you are experiencing these symptoms, call Mountain View Eye Center at (907) 328-2920. These symptoms may indicate an emergency.

Hands wearing gloves

Keeping Our Patients Safe

The doctors and staff at Mountain View Eye Center have always put the care and safety of our patients first. We take our commitment to excellence in eye care seriously, and we recognize the importance of strict policies to help protect our community. In order to reduce the spread of illness, we have implemented new operating procedures in accordance with CDC guidelines. These new procedures are:

  • Staff members all dress in scrubs, which are stored and sanitized in office to avoid contamination
  • Social distancing-6 feet between people whenever possible
  • Protective Equipment-Masks, gloves and scrubs for all employees
  • Hand sanitizer available for staff and patients at all times
  • Hand washing station in lobby
  • Increased sanitizing between patient exams
  • Temperature checks for staff and patients
  • Office visits by appointment only
  • Streamlined office visits to minimize unnecessary contact
  • Telemedicine appointments available when appropriate
  • Curbside pickup for eye wear

Keeping Yourself SafeFather and daughter washing hands

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to prevent infection. The doctors at Mountain View Eye Center have the following recommendations to keep your eyes safe from Coronavirus:

  • Avoid touching your eyes
    • Coronavirus can be spread through the eyes, so avoid touching your eyes face, especially if you notice discharge or fluid coming from the eye. 
  • Wear glasses instead of contact lenses
    • Avoiding contact lenses will help to minimize the number of times you touch your eyes and face. Additionally, glasses may act as a barrier between your eyes and infected fluids. It should be noted that glasses are NOT a replacement for safety eye wear or goggles, and will not completely protect your eyes from infection.
  • Have a 3 month supply of prescription eye medications on hand
    • If you take prescription medications for eye disease, try to have a 3 month supply available, to avoid running short if supplies become limited. Contact your insurance company to find out if they will cover a 3 month supply during this pandemic. If you need assistance with your insurance company, contact Mountain View Eye Center and we will do our best to assist you. 
  • Follow CDC guidelines for hygiene
    • Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Stay 6 feet away from others at all times, and wear a mask or facial covering if possible. Avoid touching your eyes and face. Stay home if you aren’t feeling well or you have a cough, runny nose, fever, or other cold/flu-like symptoms. More information about CDC guidelines is available at the CDC website:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

As of May 4th, 2020 Mountain View Eye Center will be open for routine and emergency eye care. We feel confident in our ability to provide excellent eye care while providing a safe and clean environment for our staff and patients. To help us maintain this environment, please do the following:

  • Call before coming in
    • If you do not have an appointment scheduled, please call before coming in. We will assess the nature of your call and determine if an office visit is necessary. If you have an appointment, please come in as scheduled provided you are free of cold/flu like symptoms. Telemedicine visits are available for some exams. Call (907) 328-2920 for more information.
  • Come alone
    • If you are able to attend your appointment without assistance please come alone to your exam. If you are a parent/caretaker of a patient, or a patient who requires caretaker assistance, please come together. 
  • Wear a mask
    • Please bring your own mask or face covering to your exam.
  • Stay home if you are sick
    • We will be checking the temperature of patients before they enter an exam room. If you feel sick, or have a cough, runny nose, fever, or other cold/flu-like symptoms, please reschedule your appointment and stay home. 
  • For Glasses/Contact Lenses:
    • We now require an appointment for assistance with glasses or contact lenses. Please call (907) 328-2920 and follow the prompts to speak with the Optical Shoppe. If you would like to order contact lenses online, please visit www.mountainvieweyes.com or click here. Free shipping to your home is available on some orders. 

Dr. Katherine Johnson and the entire staff of Mountain View Eye Center are grateful for your trust during this time. We feel honored to provide care for this community and we continue to make the health and safety of our patients and employees our priority. If you have further questions about this topic or you would like to make an eye appointment, please call us at (907) 328-2920. Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, and stay tuned for weekly blog updates! 

Written by: Gina Stafford, LDO, COA, ABOC

April 29, 2020

References:

American Academy of Ophthalmology-Eye Care During the Coronavirus Pandemic (2020) 

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/coronavirus-covid19-eye-infection-pinkeye

Written by Reena Mukamal

Center for Disease Control-Coronavirus (COVID-19) (2020) 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

Posted in: Alaska Ophthalmology, Eye Doctor in Alaska, Eye Health Guide, Eyes, Patient Education

 
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