The American Academy of Ophthalmology has shared its latest information about protecting vision during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below are six topics getting a lot of attention right now, and AAO’s recommendations:
- Avoid touching your eyes
By now you’ve heard about the importance of hand washing, coughing into your elbow, and keeping your hands away from your face and eyes. Last one is easier said than done, right? Here’s a suggestion, switch from contact lenses to glasses for the time being. Substituting glasses for lenses can decrease irritation and make you pause before touching your eye. If you continue wearing contact lenses, follow these hygiene tips to limit your chances of infection.
- Pink eye is a COVID-19 symptom, but it’s rare
About 1 to 2 percent of reported coronavirus cases show symptoms of conjunctivitis, better known as pink eye. If you or a family member gets pink eye, don’t panic, especially if you’re not experiencing the more common coronavirus-related symptoms, such as a dry cough, shortness of breath and fever. Viral conjunctivitis is very common, plus it’s allergy season. Try these home treatments for pink eye. If symptoms continue, consult with your doctor to determine if you need an in-person office visit.
- The malaria drugs used to treat coronavirus will not blind you
Patients who rely on hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat autoimmune conditions such as lupus rarely experience eye damage. Only about 1 to 2 percent of patients develop retinal problems during a 5-year course of treatment. Even though patients with COVID-19 are receiving double the dosage, they are treated for a fraction of the time, only one to two weeks. However, if you are older than 50 and have a history of retinal disease, macular degeneration or have been exposed to the breast cancer therapy tamoxifen, discuss these drugs with your doctor. You may be better off considering an alternate treatment. We also want to emphasize that there currently is no scientific evidence these drugs are effective in treating the virus.
- Have an upcoming routine eye care appointment? Call your ophthalmologist first
Most ophthalmologists are performing emergency care only right now to keep patients safe and to conserve much-needed medical supplies. If you receive regular treatments to maintain your vision, such as injections for macular degeneration, talk to your ophthalmologist. They can tell you if you need to come in for treatment.
- Stock up on medications, if you can
If you take medicated eyedrops or other medical prescriptions, talk to your ophthalmologist about stocking up on critical prescriptions, so you’ll have enough to get by if quarantined or if supplies become limited. Your ophthalmologist or pharmacist may be able to help obtain approval through insurance.
- Consider home remedies for nonurgent relief
Some eye conditions can be treated from home, such as red eye, dry eye or eye strain. Try these at-home remedies. If symptoms persist, call your ophthalmologist. Many are conducting appointments through telehealth.
To keep up with the latest information for maintaining your eye health during the pandemic, visit: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/coronavirus.