Eye Care during the COVID-19 Pandemic
During the current COVID-19 pandemic regular visits to your doctor might be delayed, but the treatment of an eye emergency is still very crucial. The following is some information which can help you protect your eyes and will also help you recognize any conditions which might need the attention of an ophthalmologist or any other medical doctor.
Coronavirus and How it Can Spread through Your Eyes
COVID-19 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. After a person is exposed to the virus, the symptoms will start to appear anywhere from 2 to 14 days. Cough, fever and shortness of breath are among its symptoms. In severe cases, people can develop pneumonia which can make them seriously ill or in some cases, result in death.
Keep in mind that just as the corona virus spreads through your nose or mouth, it can also spread through your eyes. If a person who is infected with the corona virus talks, sneezes, or coughs, he/she can spray particles of the virus onto the face of another person. You are likely to breathe in these tiny droplets either through your nose or through your mouth. But these droplets can also enter through your eyes. If you touch your eyes after touching an infected surface such as a doorknob or a table, you can also get infected.
Standard Visits Might Be Postponed During This Pandemic
Eye clinics are encouraged that they should postpone regular visits and they should only see those who need urgent medical attention. This is important because this way, the contact between the patients and the doctors become limited, which reduces the risk of corona virus spread. It’s also important because right now the whole nation needs to reserve medical supplies like face shields and masks for those hospitals where these are needed the most. You will likely find that most elective eye surgeries and regular visits will be postponed. Still, some practices are offering “virtual” appointments over a phone or on a computer in the form of video chat.
Critical Eye Issues Can be Treated inside Clinics
During this pandemic, you might be reluctant to go to the doctor. But if you have an eye emergency, you shouldn’t delay its treatment. There is no need to worry because just like every other medical professional, ophthalmologists are also following strict disinfection and hygiene guidelines.
For certain situations like an eye emergency or delivery of eye injections, ophthalmologists are available. If you want guidance for any of the following situations you should call your ophthalmologist:
- You get regular eye injections for your diabetic retinopathy or for macular degeneration.
- Your eyesight has started to change, and you can’t see clearly, or in your field of vision you have blank spots.
- A lot of new flashes or floaters have started to appear in your vision.
- Recently you started experiencing headache, eye pain, or you have red-eye.
- You have suddenly begun to lose your sight.
Changes in The Process of Eye Examination You Should Expect When Visiting the Clinic during This Pandemic
Some of the changes you should expect when visiting clinics during this pandemic include:
- You might be asked to wait outside the clinic or in your car; this is to protect you and the others in the clinic form any potential virus exposure.
- Clinics are most likely putting restrictions on the number of people entering. So, you shouldn’t bring any extra people with you.
- When using the slit lamp machine to look into your eye, your doctor might use a special plastic breath shield. He/she may also be wearing a mask and a plastic shield over his/her eyes.
- You might be asked to not talk during the eye examination. When the examination is over, your doctor will answer your questions from a safe distance.
Precautions to Follow:
Some of the precautions you should follow during this pandemic include:
- Before going to the doctor’s office, you should call them and let them know if you have any symptoms like cough or fever, or if you have been in contact with someone else who has these symptoms. You might be asked to stay at home if you don’t need any treatment urgently.
- If you visit the clinic while you are sick, you might be asked to wear protective coverings and wait in a particular room where there won’t be any other patients.
- If during the examination, you need to cough, you should use a tissue to cover your face, or you should cough into the crook of your arm. After coughing, immediately wash your hands with soap and water.
Protect Your Health and Your Eyes
According to the experts, you can slow the spread of corona virus by guarding your eyes, hands, mouth and nose. The following are some of the ways by which you can keep your eyes and your health safe during this pandemic.
Consider Switching to Glasses if You Wear Contact Lenses
Those who wear contact lenses, touch their eyes more often than others. When wearing contacts if you touch your eyes a lot, you should consider wearing glasses. Using glasses instead of contacts can lessen eye irritation, and these can act as a barrier which can remind you not to touch your eyes. If for some reason you must wear contacts, you should precisely follow the recommendations of your doctor on how you should disinfect and clean your contacts.
Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes
Breaking this natural habit is hard, but if you can overcome this habit, it will surely decrease the risk of infection. Instead of using your finger, you should use a tissue to adjust your glasses or to rub your eyes. People with dry eye rub their eyes more often than others; these people should make a habit of using moisturizing drops. If you have to touch your eyes, you should first wash your hands with soap and water for about 20 seconds. Then after touching your eyes, rewash your hands.
If You can Stock up on Your Eye Medicine Prescriptions
You should stock up your eye medicine if your insurance allows that. In times of natural disasters, some insurers will approve three months of supply of the medication. Don’t wait till last minute, as soon as you are due; request your pharmacy for a refill.