Over the past few weeks, it’s the only thing we’ve been talking about. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge stir, disrupting many of our habits. At IRIS, we believe that safety should always come first in regards to eye care, and that information is a vital factor in both individual and collective protection. As we’ve always been a reliable source of information for both our products and services, we’re committed to informing you about this virus.

What you should know about the link between COVID-19 and the eyes

The coronavirus at the origin of COVID-19 is transmitted by contact with droplets, either directly with an affected patient (coughing, sneezing), or by indirect contact, via environmental surfaces (door handles, switches) that you touch before bringing your hands to your face.

The eyes are therefore a potential gateway for this virus, as they are for other viruses normally in circulation. Avoid rubbing your eyes or touching your eyelids unnecessarily. If you must touch them, wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds both before and after touching your eyes or the skin around them. If your eyes sting, use artificial tears to moisturize the surface and a cool, clean washcloth to help calm the itch. Artificial tears will also help heal the surface of the eye if localized irritation begins.

Contact lenses can be worn safely if strict hygiene is observed and in cases where the wearer is neither sick nor in contact with infected people.

In all cases, proper hand hygiene is the best way to avoid getting the virus.

Can COVID-19 cause an eye disease?

In 1-3% of COVID-19 patients studied during the outbreak in China, moderate viral conjunctivitis has been reported. People who have this symptom suffer from a pink, watery and uncomfortable eye. This conjunctivitis isn’t dangerous for vision, and is treated with time through the use of artificial tears and cold compresses. 

It’s possible that tears from an infected patient with viral conjunctivitis could contain a viral load and become a source of contagion. However, the risk seems low at the moment. The most recent studies in North American patients didn’t find viral loads in tears, even those with COVID-19 and with red eyes.

COVID-19 isn’t harmful to your vision, but be on the lookout. If you have any doubts about your eye health or have any worrying symptoms that you want to discuss, please don't hesitate to contact us. Our clinics have emergency management protocols and we will be happy to assist you.