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Rutgers professor discusses risks of contact lenses amid coronavirus pandemic

David Chu, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said that while there have been no confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) being spread through contact lenses, those who use them may be more at risk. – Photo by Pixabay

David Chu, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, said those who wear contact lenses could be at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 being spread through handling contact lenses, Chu said they may cause eye irritation, resulting in individuals touching their face or rubbing their eyes more often.

Chu said the virus is most likely spread by touching your face after coming in contact with an infected surface.

In order to avoid this, he said those who wear contacts should practice strict hygiene when handling them. This includes washing your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water and drying your hands completely afterward.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not currently have recommendations for using contact lenses for non-healthcare workers, but individuals who may be more vulnerable or who live with someone who is more vulnerable to COVID-19 should consider switching to glasses, Chu said.

In addition to this, conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is one of the more rare symptoms of COVID-19, Chu said. Individuals should immediately stop wearing contact lenses in the event they contract this symptom, as Chu said it could cause abrasions on the cornea or result in a bacterial cornea infection.

In the end, Chu said proper care should always be taken when using contact lenses, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said daily lenses should be removed each night and hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water and dried completely prior to handling. Contact lenses should also be kept in a clean case with disinfecting solution and cases should be replaced every few months, he said.

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