Coronavirus and your eyes: An ophthalmologist shares 5 things you need to know


To prevent further spreading of the coronavirus, it is crucial to be aware of how the virus is contracted and the ways in which you can stay healthy. By now, it is widely known that the coronavirus mostly spreads through particles in the air that you breathe in through your mouth or nose. What most people don’t realize, however, is that the eyes are also a potential portal for viral transmissions. I only know this because I sat down with my father Dr. Bruce Miller, who is an ophthalmologist, as he shared some insight on coronavirus and the eyes.

He reveals the main eye problems that are found to be associated with the coronavirus. “A small percentage of people who test positive for the coronavirus has an associated pink eye or conjunctivitis,” Miller says.

Sharing the symptoms of coronavirus conjunctivitis, he said that having pink eye without other symptoms is most likely not the coronavirus. “You should only go to the hospital or talk to your doctor if you have the associated symptoms of the virus, such as shortness of breath, coughing or fever,” Miller says. 

He goes on to explain how the coronavirus spreads via the eyes, reinforcing the importance of limited contact between our hands and our eyes. Since the virus can live in tears, it can spread when someone rubs their eyes and then touches someone else. Not only that, but if someone with coronavirus even touches a surface after touching their eye, that surface becomes a vector of transmission as well. “Somebody can come along and touch that same surface then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes and also contract the virus,” Miller says.

How else can we protect ourselves and those around us to decrease the scope of this virus? One simple tip that he shares is to add a layer of protection to your eyes by wearing glasses. “If you happen to be a contact lens wearer, this would be a really good time to give your eyes a rest,” Miller suggests. “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.”

Although the American Academy of Ophthalmology is recommending eye doctors to only see emergency and urgent cases right now, Miller reassures that “your doctors are here either at home or via telemedicine, to answer your questions and to get you through this.”

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides. 

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