New Delhi: While facial masks and hand sanitisers are mandatory as a preventive measure against the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, eye care specialists in India have stressed that as the virus can transmit through the eyes too, people should avoid wearing contact lenses to curb its spread.
The opthalmologists point out the need for wearing glasses and taking good care of the eyes to reduce the risk of the virus entering into the eyes.
“One of the rare manifestations of COVID-19 is a pink eye or conjunctivitis. Sometimes, patients may not have a fever, cold, cough or any other symptom other than mild conjunctivitis. These patients can also experience loss of smell and loss of taste,” Ikeda Lal, Opthalmologist at Delhi Eye Centre and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi, told IANS.
The recent study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, claimed that of the 1,099 patients across 30 different Chinese hospitals, nine had “conjunctival congestion.” Symptoms of conjunctivitis, also known as pink eyes, include redness, watering, irritation, pain, discharge and photophobia. Discharge from the infected eye can be a potential source of contamination, the experts said.
“Although there are very few reports of COVID-19 conjunctivitis and that too only from China, one should be careful when one develops conjunctivitis during this COVID era and get oneself tested immediately,” Rajesh Sinha, Professor of Opthalmology, All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi, told IANS.
According to Sinha, when a person touches an affected surface and then touches the eyes or the face, the virus can enter the body. With spectacles, one can prevent virus droplets from coming in contact with the eyes.
“It is advisable to wear glasses when you step out of the house, and those who wear contact lenses should switch to glasses immediately, ” he added.
To stop the spread of the deadly virus, Dr Lal further said: “Eyecare during coronavirus pandemic is very important. Do not rub your eyes, avoid wearing contact lenses. Those who wear contact lenses have a tendency towards rubbing their eyes, which can allow the virus to get into the eyes.
“Stay at home and avoid going out as much as possible. Sunglasses or prescription glasses can be worn while going out to protect our eyes,” Lal added.
“One should take frequent breaks in between the sessions with monitor which may be webinars, web series, news channels, movies or video chats, intentionally increase your blink rate, put some lubricating eye drops or keep your eyes moist even by splashing water into the eye,” Sinha said.
On Tuesday, coronavirus cases in India reached 18,601, with 14,759 active cases, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a morning update.”A total of 3,252 patients have been cured and discharged, while the death toll stood at 590,” the Ministry said.