Doctor provides tips on Eye protection during this pandemic
13th July 2020, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE: While facial masks and hand sanitizers are mandatory as a preventive measure to curb the spread of the potentially deadly COVID 19, we shouldn’t be neglecting the eyes as the contagious virus may be transmitted through aerosols to your eye. Studies published in the journal of medical virology found that 1 out of 30 COVID positive patients had eye involvement in China whereas a CNN report suggested that ‘Pink Eye’ may be an early symptom of COVID 19 especially in elderly patients.
“Ocular involvement of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 should never be overlooked. In fact conjunctival mucosae are susceptible to respiratory viruses and remain an important point of entry. Indeed, some COVID positive patients have experienced ‘Pink Eye’ or conjunctivitis as the only initial symptom and may later develop fever, cold, cough or any other symptom”, says Dr. Archana Sood, Senior Specialist and Head of Department, Ophthalmology at RAK Hospital.
Symptoms of conjunctivitis, also known as pink eyes include redness, watering, irritation, pain, discharge and photophobia.
Eye care during the COVID era is an important aspect in avoiding any possible exposure hence Dr. Archana Sood, provides below a list of do’s and don’ts to protect the eyes in the current pandemic:
• Sunglasses, prescription glasses or zero power glasses, or glass shields should be worn to work, for outdoor activities or trips to malls or supermarkets.
• Report to emergency and get yourself tested immediately if you seem to have developed Conjunctivitis along with at least 2 of the following symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, fever, dizziness, and headache or if you have any history of exposure/travel.
• If you wear contact lenses, try switching to glasses for a while. However, If you must wear contact lenses and cannot wear glasses, follow strict hygiene rules such as frequent hand washing for 20 seconds with soap, replace lenses according to prescribed schedule, and dispose contact solution after each use amongst others precautions.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands as much as possible.
• If your contacts are uncomfortable, remove them immediately and switch to glasses. This can help you to avoid rubbing and touching your eyes. If you develop significant redness, decreased vision, pain, or discharge, remove the lenses and contact your eye care professional
• Clean your glasses routinely.
• Avoid unnecessary routine or follow up visits with your Ophthalmologist.
• Elderly patients can request for eye drop refills by phone or can send any family member to the hospital or eye centre.
• When visiting your Ophthalmologist, keep the face mask on and don’t speak while the doctor examines you with a slit lamp.
• Do not touch your eyes at all after touching a potentially affected surface. The virus can enter the body through direct touch to the eyes. If needed, sanitize your hands before touching the eyes.
• Limit screen time as much as possible or take regular breaks in between the sessions. Don’t binge watch on mobiles and TV.
• Increase the blink eye rate. Keep your eyes lubricated with eye drops recommended by your ophthalmologist and visit your eye doctor immediately if you develop any symptoms such as blurred vision, redness, watery discharge or itching
• Special eye care regimen for children, pregnant women, elderly, diabetic, hypertensive and immunosuppressed patients is required. Encourage them to wear protective eye glasses / goggles especially if they are visiting hospitals for any treatment or consultation.
“Even though, the Pink Eye is a rare symptom of COVID 19, we cannot ignore the possibility of catching the virus through the eyes, hence proper eye protection is crucial to stop the spread. It’s vital to bear in mind that precautions such as washing your hands often, following good contact lens hygiene, wearing protective eye shields, avoiding touching face, eyes, nose or mouth and adhering to social distancing measures can greatly reduce the risk”, commented Dr. Raza Siddiqui, Executive Director of RAK Hospital.
“At RAK Hospital, we are doing our best to maintain the highest safety standards and protocols so your visit to the hospital is seamless and requires minimum contact, concluded Dr. Siddiqui.