By David Saunders | UPDATED: 11:28, 07 April 2020
Recent reports have stated that contact lens wearers should switch to glasses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, the General Optical Council (GOC) confirms that it’s safe to carry on wearing contact lenses – but now, more than ever, hygiene comes first.
In fact, not only is wearing contact lenses perfectly safe, but it could also be a valuable preventative measure for many at the moment: from key workers, whose glasses would make protective equipment uncomfortable or impractical, to those working from home, who want to avoid touching their face too much – as glasses often need a lot of fiddling around.
Contact lenses are the least obstructive form of vision correction to wear under maskings, visors and other PPE (personal protective equipment) because they don’t require any adjustments or wiping down during the day (as opposed to glasses). But their benefits are not only practical: contact lenses offer better clarity and seamless peripheral vision, which is important for key workers such as NHS doctors and nurses.
Lucas Fernández, a senior nurse at University College Hospital confirms that ‘wearing glasses underneath a visor makes things a lot more complicated for those of us on the frontline needing vision correction.
Protective equipment is not made with breathable materials, making glasses fog up and slide down the nose – and the process of wiping them down or pushing them up at various points of the day is long and complex.
We have to disinfect our hands, the mask and our glasses every single time we touch them, even if it’s with gloves. But with contacts, you can safely insert/remove them at home and not have to worry about them during the day.”
Britain’s leading online contact lens provider Vision Direct had their opticians working around the clock to study the science around the outbreak, and create must-follow guidelines to protect lens wearers around the world.
Optometrist and Vision Direct COO Brendan O’Brien said: “It’s still perfectly safe to wear contact lenses during this outbreak. But we know the virus can be transmitted through touching our eyes, nose and mouth, so it’s more important than ever that we are vigilant and scrupulously follow appropriate hygiene guidelines around lenses.”
The reason why the eyes play an important role in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak is simple: we touch them a lot, often without realising. We’ve no doubt heard all about the importance of washing your hands frequently for 30 seconds throughout the day, and this especially applies to contact lens wearers. It’s time to up the ante on the hygiene front, so the opticians at Vision Direct put together 8 safety tips all contact lens wearers should stick to.
8 top tips for contact lens hygiene:
Remember to clean and disinfect the area you are using to insert/remove your lenses and ensure the surface is dry. Try to do this in front of a mirror that is not above a sink to reduce the risk of the lens falling and absorbing bacteria from water residue.
Sorry to repeat ourselves, but this one’s really important: wash your hands well with soap that is free from perfume. If possible, dry them with a paper towel that you can throw away, as it prevents contamination you may get from fibres on clothing.
Go for daily disposable lenses, as they reduce the risk of transmission and offer a more hygienic solution because you will use a sterile contact lens every day. There’s a lot to worry about hygiene-wise at the moment, so keeping your contacts fuss-free is a good way to go about it. If you want to make the switch from monthlies/ two-weeklies to dailies, just reach out to one of our customer service experts at Vision Direct, who can help out.
Limit contact with the eye by checking to make sure that the lens is the correct way round before applying. Check that all the edges are facing upwards in a nice bowl shape when on the tip of your finger: if the edges point out slightly or appear sharp, it is an indicator the lens is inside out. Doing this saves you from going through the process of having to remove the lens and check again. If you have to touch solution bottles or anything else, always make sure you stop and wash your hands before continuing.
Using eye drops? They’re also safe to use, but make sure the tip of the bottle does not touch the eye itself. Hold it up a few centimetres above so the eye drop can fall into the eye with no contact. For extra peace of mind, go for eye drop vials, as they are the more hygienic option.
This is a rule your optician has no-doubt stressed before, but you should never share contact lenses or cases, even if you experience no symptoms. This doesn’t rule out the possibility of you transmitting the virus.
If you want to go with reusable lenses, you need to be extra careful with your cleaning and disinfecting. As above, ensure your hands and surfaces are disinfected, before rubbing and rinsing the lens for 30 seconds on both sides, before placing it into your clean case. Allow the lenses to soak and restore for a minimum of 4-6 hours depending on your solution type.
Clean your contact lens case with solution every time you take your lenses out, using your fingertip as an exfoliator to rub any excess debris from inside and always let it air dry. Avoid any other substances to clean your case such as soap or other disinfectants, as they are unsafe to use on the eyes.
For more information about contact lens care, and other eye health questions, visit www.visiondirect.co.uk