Eye Health During Coronavirus – Why Seniors Need to Be Extra Careful

The novel coronavirus has brought about a state of panic around the globe with its threatening consequences, such as a severe respiratory infection that may lead to death. It is dangerous because it can be easily transmitted through respiratory droplets.

Therefore, I feel I must share every piece of relevant information and advice that I have received from the team of eye specialists at our clinic. Read on.

How is coronavirus related to eyes?

Mucous membranes line many structures of our bodies, including eyelids. And it is the mucous membranes that are most susceptible to the virus. At our eye clinic in Fresno, CA, we have come across cases where patients reported ocular symptoms, including viral conjunctivitis with slightly red and weepy eyes. And though the occurrence is low, it shouldn’t be ignored.

Our team – Dr. Poulsen, Dr. Salahuddin, Dr. Hiyama, and Dr. Scott – agrees that getting infected because of hand-to-eye contact is unlikely. The chances of contraction through respiratory droplets reaching eyes are much higher.

Let’s take a look at Wang Guangfa’s (a Peking University respiratory specialist) case as an example. He contracted COVID-19 after he came in contact with patients. And the first sign of infection in his body was inflammation and redness in his left eye. He thinks that it was because he was not wearing protective eye wear that he contracted the virus through his left eye. Considering this case and several others, it can’t be denied that protective eye wear is as important as masks.

How coronavirus affects older adults?

I have attended every session the doctors at our clinic conducted to educate people on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus. And the one thing that was common in every session was how people above the age of 50 are more likely to get acute respiratory distress syndrome from COVID-19. The reason is that older people have a weaker immune system. Moreover, underlying conditions such as lung disease, kidney diseases, diabetes, etc. are common in the older population. And these problems affect the ability of their bodies to fight the virus. Hence, they should be extra vigilant.

They’re also more likely to spread the infection to their eyes. Hence, protecting their eyes as they age becomes more crucial.

Tips for Older Adults to Stay Protected from Coronavirus

Wash Hands Frequently – Wash your hands rigorously and frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and tap water. You can also use a hand sanitizer that has 60% alcohol concentration.

Practice Respiratory Etiquette –When you sneeze, cover your mouth with either a tissue or your elbow. Always wear a mask when stepping out, especially if you feel sick.

Avoid Large Gatherings – Avoid crowded settings such as malls, supermarkets, conferences, etc. Stay indoors and practice social isolation as much as possible because you cannot identify infected people if they do not show any symptoms yet.

Maintain Social Distance –If you have to get out to buy essentials, maintain a distance of at least 3-6 feet, especially is someone seems to be sick. Apparently,that’s how far the virus can spread. See if you have have someone get your groceries for you.

Avoid Direct Contact with Public Surfaces –Shopping carts, elevator buttons, door handles, etc. may have been touched by hundreds of people before you. So, use a clean tissue when touching them. You can also sanitize them with disinfecting wipes to be more careful. You can also wear gloves when possible.

Avoid Traveling –Traveling in confined spaces with hundreds of other people can be dangerous during the pandemic. So, avoid it unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you must travel, stay prepared with alcohol wipes, masks, hand sanitizer, and protective eye wear.

Protecting Your Eyes – Important Tips

Here are some eye protection tips from our doctors:

  1. Wear eyeglasses every time you step out since they act as a barrier that can prevent airborne respiratory droplets from entering your eyes. This does not ensure 100% protection, but it’s always better to be proactive. Safety goggles are more effective, so ensure that you wear them when you come in contact with an infected person.
  2. People wearing contact lenses are more at risk since they tend to touch their eyes frequently because of irritation. So, if you use contact lenses, switch to eyeglasses for a while. This will reduce irritation due to contact lens, and you won’t find yourself touching your eyes a lot.

Take every precaution to protect yourself. If you notice irritation or redness in your eyes, do not ignore the signs. Consult and find out the reason. Early detection has proven very helpful so far.

Stay indoors. Stay healthy.


Author Bio: Aaron Barriga is the online marketing manager for Insight Vision Center. With a knack for understanding medical procedures, and an interest in eye and vision health, Aaron loves to share what he knows and what he learns. He blogs with a mission of informing readers about the latest eye care technology and other topics related to eye care and eye health. He loves collecting coasters from the different bars and restaurants he visits during his travels.