Coronavirus and Your Eyes: Information and Community Resources
What can I do?
We know that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the events that are taking place right now. So, we’re reaching out with some guidelines for how you can stay focused on keeping yourself healthy both physically and mentally. Instead of concentrating on what you can’t do, put more energy into the things you can do:
- Eat well—try to keep healthy foods in your diet, try not to stress eat, pay attention to portion size and plan ahead to get groceries delivered.
- Stay active—find creative ways to keep moving, discover home exercise programs, make realistic goals to declutter or be creative as you consider home projects.
- Reduce stress—limit the amount of news you watch, take time to meditate, turn the lights down and listen to soothing music.
- Maintain your overall health—disinfect objects when you bring them into your home, avoid contact with others, continue to take your medications and follow all directions given to you by your doctors and healthcare professionals.
Can I get the Coronavirus from touching my eye?
The CDC states that COVID-19 is mainly spread through the air when someone who has the virus coughs or talks, much like how the flu is spread. When someone who has coronavirus coughs or talks, virus particles leave their mouth or nose. People are most likely to get sick by breathing these tiny droplets. Less commonly, someone may get the virus by touching their eyes with contaminated hands or if someone ill sneezes in their face.
Coronavirus may cause conjunctivitis (or pink eye), but it’s rare. If you see someone with pink eye, don’t panic. There are many other potential causes. Health officials believe pink eye develops in about 1% to 3% of people with coronavirus.
If you think you may have pink eye, don’t panic. Simply call your New Eyes physician to schedule a virtual visit.
How can I help prevent getting the coronavirus through my eyes?
Resist the urge to to itch or rub your eyes. When doing so ensure clean hands and consider using a tissue, even when adjusting your glasses. People with dry eyes tend to rub their eyes more, so if you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye consider adding lubricating eye drops to your routine.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before touching your eyes or eating. Wash after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or going to the bathroom. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
What if I use artificial tears or medicine eye drops?
If you touch your eyes for any reason — even to administer eye drops — first wash your hands, as above.
Stock up on eye medicine prescriptions if you are able to do so. See if your insurance allows you to get more than one month of eye medicine (like glaucoma drops). Many insurers will approve a 3-month supply of medication. Ask your pharmacist or New Eyes team for help if you have trouble getting approval from your insurance company. Request a refill as soon as you are due and avoid waiting until the last minute to contact your pharmacy.
What if I wear Contact lenses?
Consider switching to glasses for a while, especially if you tend to touch your eyes during contact lens use. Substituting glasses for contacts may also remind you not to touch your eyes. Regular glasses or sunglasses may partially shield your eyes from infected respiratory droplets, but are not 100% effective. If you must wear contacts, be sure to clean and disinfect them exactly as your optometrist recommends with excellent hand hygiene.
Is New Eyes seeing patients during the pandemic?
There are many ways New Eyes doctors are working to protect patient health during the coronavirus pandemic.
Telemedicine technology is now available. For more information please click here. In spite of this technology, sometimes a visit to the office is needed. If your eye doctor recommends a visit in-person, expect changes to your routine eye exam and procedures. Your New Eyes team has been following very strict cleaning and disinfection guidelines. For more information click here.
Community resources for patients:
UNLV Medicine is now offering curbside COVID-19 testing by appointment only for those who meet CDC criteria. Call (702) 583-4408 between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday for an appointment.
Smith’s Grocery Store will be offering special senior citizen shopping hours for one hour from 7am to 8am on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays.
United Way has a Covid-19 Community Economic Relief Fund. They may help with bills, rent and food. Call 1.866.211.9966 give them your zip code and you will be given a list of local agencies that provide assistance.
For more information on COVID-19 please be sure to access reliable sources such as www.CDC.gov