Can COVID-19 Infect You Through Your Eyes?
In some potentially alarming news recently, Dr. Joseph Fair announced from his hospital bed in New Orleans that he believes that he contracted the COVID-19 virus through his eyes. Dr. Fair is a renowned expert on public health and viruses, and according to him, he was on a crowded plane when he contracted the coronavirus, despite wearing a protective mask and gloves. According to a recently published study, eye secretions can contain the virus, and “…the virus persisted in the eye secretions longer than it was detected in the nasopharyngeal swab,” says Dr. Fred Lopez, who is a LSUHSC Infectious Disease Expert. Since the microscopic droplets containing the virus can stay in the air for a while after a cough or a sneeze, the virus can enter through the eyes that way. Alternatively, if a person touches a contaminated surface and then touches their eyes, the virus can be contracted that way as well. In another positive case, David Hammer, a reporter for WWL-TV, got sick with coronavirus and says that his eyes were extremely irritated before he got his positive test back from the laboratory. Conjunctivitis is a known symptom of COVID-19. Dr. Lopez went on to say that wearing glasses--or even better--goggles, is a prudent measure to take when going out in public from here on out. Dr. Sonal Tuli, who is a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, recommends, “…common sense precautions…So wash your hands a lot, follow good contact lens hygiene and avoid touching or rubbing your nose, mouth, and especially your eyes.” According to aao.org, up to one third of people hospitalized for coronavirus experience eye problems. Other precautions you can take are to switch from contact lenses to glasses, wear sunglasses, consider safety goggles, stock up in prescription eye medications if possible, and practice social distancing and safe hygiene. Also, disinfect your home frequently, avoid sick people, stay home when you are sick, and wash your hands often.