COVID-19 and Your Eyes: Tips for Protecting Your Vision During the Pandemic

Last Updated April 2, 2020
Tips for protecting your vision during the COVID-19 pandemic

Health experts are continuously learning about COVID-19, meaning recommendations and guidance changes in what is a rapidly evolving global event.  What we know to be true today may not be in the following days and weeks.  We are working to share with you accurate, evidenced-based information about the potential impact COVID-19 has on the health of your eyes and vision.  Today, we are discussing what is being reported in the media about the coronavirus as it relates to eye health.  As always, anyone concerned about their symptoms should call their eye doctor.

Eye Infections May Be A Rare Symptom of COVID-19

Recent studies of the COVID-19 outbreak have found a few patients develop conjunctivitis, more commonly known as “pink eye.”   All cases of pink eye require the attention of a doctor.  If you develop symptoms: pain, irritation, redness and swelling of the eye, contact your eye doctor.  Depending upon other symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), it may be an indication of a coronavirus infection.

Allergies versus Coronavirus

Symptoms of coronavirus have been described in minute detail in the media: Fever, coughing and shortness of breath. But for seasonal allergy sufferers, it can be tough to sort out what is pollen, panic or perhaps something more serious.  Importantly, allergies don’t typically cause fever.  While the itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing commonly associated with allergies may lead to some coughing and wheezing, those symptoms are usually managed with an antihistamine.   Most cases of coronavirus are mild to moderate, similar to a cold.  Rest, managing fever and other symptoms as needed with over the counter medications and keeping hydrated are generally recommended. More severe cases include shortness of breath, which require professional medical attention. 

Safe at Home Orders Mean More Time with Devices

Social distancing practices have many people leveraging technology to work, attend classes and keep themselves entertained.  This translates to more time than ever in front of computers, tablets and mobile phones.  While these devices have become an integral part of life today, the long hours of screen time can take a toll on eyes and vision. In this time when everyone is feeling a bit stressed out, it is important to take advantage of simple methods of selfcare. To avoid digital eye strain follow the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and gaze at something 20 feet away.

Personal Hygiene for Eyewear

The first step in any personal hygiene is washing your hands. The global health crisis has everyone evaluating their personal hygiene and washing your hands begins to take up far more of your day than ever before.  For those who rely on eyeglasses or contact lenses to see well, there’s a longer “to do” list to keep yourself safe and healthy.  This list includes cleaning your eyeglasses and contact lens gear – all of which should be done after, you guessed it, you wash your hands:

As always, your eye doctor is your eye health expert and if you have any questions or concerns about your eyes or vision, it is important to reach out and call the office.

Published April 2, 2020