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June 09, 2020

This article was originally going to be titled “Eye Care Post-Covid,” but since we don’t know exactly how long this demon virus is going to haunt us, let’s talk about eye care post-quarantine instead. Eye care during a worldwide pandemic is a little more complicated than it used to be, particularly sincecoronavirus can spread through the eyes (just because it’s not frequently talked about doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen). Now that NC’s stay-at-home order has been lifted and we’re slowly making our way back into the wild (T.J. Maxx), it’s more important than ever to learn how to properly take care of your eyes when you’re out and about. 

See our in-office precautions here

Quarantine Might Be Over, But Covid-19 Is Not

It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking that this virus is disappearing faster than a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos, but slowing the spread is harder and more complicated than you might think. Regardless of what your crazy uncle is saying on Facebook, we are far from out of the woods in terms of not having to worry about infection. Even if you’re wearing a mask while shopping for those sweet deals at Old Navy, not everyone is! When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even talks, virus particles can enter your body through your nose, mouth and uncovered eyes (this can also happen by touching your eyes after having contact with a contaminated surface). Cases have shown that Covid-19 can cause conjunctivitis (pink eye), as well as photophobia, irritation, and watery discharge. In an effort to avoid this ocular nastiness, as well as accompanying symptoms, it’s important to wear a mask, wash and sanitize your hands frequently, and avoid sharing towels, make-up, and literally anything else. 

Impacts Of Covid-19 On In-Office Eye Care 

No one is denying the impact of COVID-19 on eye health, but what about the impact on eye care? For those of you who haven’t been back to a optometrist’s office since the stay-at-home order was lifted, you might be surprised at the new procedures that have been put into place. Almost all offices ask if you have (or have had) a cough or a fever, or have been in close contact with someone who has, before they allow you into the office. Even if you haven’t, they will likely ask for a temperature screening before they let you in the door. Don’t be all“OH NO YOU DIDN’T”if they turn you away at the door due to a fever; the last thing they need is a virus-spreading zombie in their office making everyone sick. If your visit is not an emergency, and you present with symptoms, you need to stay home. In the event that it IS an emergency, you may be asked to wait in a self-isolating room while your eye doctornopes out of there puts on additional PPE (personal protective equipment). Speaking of PPE, that’s another huge change you’ll notice at the office. In addition to utilizing germicidal wipes, hand sanitizer, and soap and water, all clinical and non-clinical staff will be wearing face masks and gloves. When the eye doctor looks into your eyes, they may or may not turn into Darth Vader use a plastic breath shield while using the slip lamp machine. Other PPE might include goggles, gowns, etc. It goes without saying that you should always wear a mask to your appointment, but if you do not have one, one will probably be provided for you. It is also possible that you will be asked to wait outside, or in your car, instead of in the waiting room, and have a paperless check-in. Offices are also limiting the amount of patients inside the building, so you will most likely be asked to come to your appointment alone.

Personal Eye Care, Post-Quarantine

Regardless of the fact that we are now stepping outside of our homes, COVID-19 is still around and our eyes still need protection. Although there is no evidence that contact lenses increase your risk of infection, they do require you to touch your eyes more than the average joe. As a result, contact wearers might want to consider switching to regular glasses for a while, particularly if they’re at high risk. Keep in mind, glasses and sunglasses can act as a barrier to shield eyes from infected droplets (obviously they are not 100% effective). Also, it might be a good idea to go ahead and stock up on critical medications so you have enough if another stay-at-home order goes into place and check to see if your insurance will allow you to get more than one month of essential eye meds (glaucoma drops, for example). Despite things opening up, it is more important than ever to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face. One of the biggest complaints from patients is that their mask keeps fogging up their glasses. To avoid steamy situations (but not the fun kind), make sure your mask is a good fit. What does that mean? Purchase (or make) snug masks with a nose bridge or ones that can be shaped to fix your face. Healthcare workers have a life hack they’ve been using for years: soap and water. Simply wash your lenses with soapy water and allow them to air dry and the soap will leave behind a thin film that can act as a fog barrier. If that doesn’t work, try pulling your mask higher up on your nose and using your glasses to seal it (or just tape it down). Last but not least, there are always commercial anti-fog products, although that can get expensive. 

Is It Safe To Visit The Eye Doctor?

Now that most states are opening up in phases, most eye doctors are now allowing patients to be seen for routine visits (with precautions). The American Optometric Association (AOA) has provided optometrists with step-by-step recommendations on how to reopen their practices and keep everyone safe, and Tradewinds is no different! We encourage patients to read about ournew safety practices before they arrive! If you need us, pleaseschedule an appointment today.