It has become widely known that the coronavirus mostly spreads through particles in the air that you breathe in through your mouth or nose, but some people may not realize that the eyes are also a portal of transmission to the virus. Yahoo Lifestyle spoke with Dr. Bruce Miller, an ophthalmologist, to share the five things you should know about the coronavirus and your eyes.
DR. BRUCE MILLER: Hi, everyone. I'm Dr. Bruce Miller and I'm an ophthalmologist from South Florida. I'm here today to talk about your eyes, the coronavirus, and what they have to do with one another.
I think by now most people realize this virus mostly spreads particles in the air. You breathe it in. It either comes through your mouth or your nose. But I think it is important not to forget about the eyes.
A small percentage of people who test positive for the coronavirus have an associated pink eye or conjunctivitis. The main symptoms associated with coronavirus conjunctivitis are red eyes, teary eyes, discharge, and light sensitivity. This has actually been proven because scientists have been able to detect levels of coronavirus in actual tears.
If you have pink eye right now, most likely you absolutely do not have coronavirus. You should only go to the hospital or talk to your doctor if you have the associated symptoms of coronavirus, such as shortness of breath, coughing, or fever.
The coronavirus really spreads through what we call mucous membranes. So your mouth, your nose, and the layers of the eye. Somebody can touch their eye, touch somebody else. That person can touch their face, their mouth, their nose, and also contract the coronavirus.
Also, somebody can touch their eye who has the coronavirus and touch a surface. Somebody could come along and touch that same surface, then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes, and also contract the virus.
If you happen to be a contact lens wearer, this would be a really good time to give your eyes a rest. People who wear contact lenses touch their eye very frequently. So this would be a good time to stop wearing your contact lenses and instead wear glasses. Not only will you not be putting your hands near your eyes or your face, but you'll also be adding an extra layer of protection just by wearing the glasses.
Eye doctors right now are being guided by the American Academy of Ophthalmology to only see emergency and urgent patients. If you do have what you think is an urgent problem, you should call your eye doctor right away and they should have some kind of an emergency plan in place to guide you.
Your doctors are here, either at home or via telemedicine or going into the office, to see urgent patients, to answer your questions, and to get you through this. Thanks so much for listening and watching. Take care.