Health Tips for Glasses & Contact Lenses
What’s the best thing to do? We’re all being given the advice to avoid touching our faces as much as possible to try and protect ourselves from Coronavirus (COVID-19) – but this can be tricky.
Apparently, the average person touches their face more than 20 times an hour* and half the time probably isn’t even aware they’re doing it. Safe to say, it’s a difficult challenge for everyone.
On top of that, glasses and contact lens wearers have the extra struggle of having to cope with physically wearing something on their faces or in their eyes and having to fit them on a regular basis.
So, we’ve asked our Director of Optometry, Dr Ben Ashby to answer some questions that may be on your mind about trying to stay healthy when wearing glasses and lenses. We hope you’ll find the answers helpful in deciding what’s best to do and how to cope in these difficult times.
Will my normal glasses cleaning liquid help to protect my glasses from picking up the virus?
Just like washing your hands, it’s good practice to clean your glasses regularly. A glasses cleaning solution that contains a detergent will help to remove surface microbes that may be of harm. Make sure you clean them thoroughly, not forgetting the nose pads and sides, and dry them with a clean glasses cleaning cloth.
Once your glasses are clean, keeping them that way can be tricky, especially if you take them on and off throughout the day. If you do have to place your glasses down on a surface, make sure you clean your glasses again before putting them back on.
When putting your glasses on or taking them off, it is almost impossible to do so without touching your face. Make sure your hands are clean before doing so by washing them with soap and water. If you’d like to see a demonstration of how this should be done, here is a guide from the World Health Organisation (WHO) .
Can I help keep my glasses virus-free by using anti-bacterial hand sanitiser on them, will that do the job?
An anti-bacterial hand sanitiser will help to rid your glasses of potentially harmful surface particles, as it would your hands. But, do avoid contact with your glasses’ lenses, as some ingredients may affect the quality of the lens’ surface. It’s also likely to smear or leave streaks on your lenses unless properly rinsed and dried.
As anti-bacterial hand sanitisers are likely to contain alcohol, it’s important that you avoid contact with the eyes as it may cause irritation, To help avoid this, use a glasses cleaning liquid or a diluted pH neutral hand wash.
How often should I wash my glasses cleaning cloth and how should I do it?
With regular wiping, it doesn’t take long for a cleaning cloth to get a little dirty. The simplest way to keep it clean is to wash it in the washing machine on a 60 degree wash with your clothes. I tend to wash my cloth once a week or more frequently if needed. Overtime, and after frequent washes, your cloth may shrink a little, become less effective and need replacing.
Don’t forget to also check the cleanliness of your glasses case. This too can be carefully cleaned with a damp cloth, soaked in warm soapy water, then left to air dry.
If I run out of glasses cleaning liquid, can I use something else?
Yes you can. You can wash your glasses in warm diluted soapy water, a pH neutral washing up liquid is ideal. Make sure you rinse them thoroughly under running water and use a clean glasses cleaning cloth to dry to help avoid any smears or streaks on your lenses.
Should I avoid wearing contact lenses so I don’t have to touch my face?
No, you don’t need to. Wearing contact lenses is safe despite myths and misinformation that you may have heard or read about recently. What’s critical though is that you wash your hands carefully and thoroughly with soap and water followed by drying them with unused paper towels. You should do this when you’re putting your lenses in your eyes and also removing them.
Should I use an anti-bacterial hand sanitiser before I handle my lenses or is soap a better option?
As you’ll probably already know, The World Health Organisation are advising people to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after they have been in a public place, or after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing. If you’d like to see a demonstration of how this should be done, here is a guide from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
If soap and water isn’t readily available, it’s advised that you use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol.
The problem with this type of hand sanitiser though is the alcohol content when it comes to handling your lenses. If you pass alcohol from your hands to your eyes via your lenses, you could end up with discomfort as it could affect your eyes. My advice would be to stick with the soap and water option making sure your hands are thoroughly clean.
If I normally wear monthly lenses, should I switch to dailies so I’m not handling my lenses as much?
Irrespective of whether you’re wearing monthly or daily disposable lenses, they’ll still need to be inserted and removed from your eyes at least once each day. Again, proper handwashing is the key. You should dispose of your daily disposable lenses each evening, or regularly disinfect your monthly or two-week lenses according to the instructions you’ve received from your optometrist or the lens manufacturer.
If I stick with my monthlies, should I change my cleaning pot more regularly?
We already advise that you replace your case every month and we’d suggest you continue to do this. Remember, each night you should empty your case of the old solution; rinse your case with fresh solution and then air-dry it upside down on a clean tissue.
Should I wear surgical gloves when putting my contact lenses in and taking them out, will that make a difference?
As long as you’re washing your hands properly with soap and water before you insert or remove your lenses and dry your hands with unused paper towels, there’s no need to wear gloves. (it’s actually pretty tricky to handle your lenses with them on, so best to avoid it!)
Should I stop using my comfort drops for dry eyes to avoid touching my face?
No. If you’re already using comfort drops you should continue to and make sure you’re thoroughly washing your hands before putting the drops in your eyes. Reducing or stopping using comfort drops could lead to an increase in eye irritation which could increase how often you inadvertently rub your eyes.
Should I watch out for any changing conditions of my eyes and sight that might mean I have contracted COVID-19?
Conjunctivitis (pink eye) is believed to occur in about 1-3% of people infected with COVID-19 so you’re much more likely to have common signs and symptoms such as coughing and a fever.
If you have any other questions that you’d like answered about the best way to handle your glasses and contact lenses or any eye health related concerns you have, we’d be more than happy to help.
If you are planning to visit us, take a minute to read what we’re doing to help prevent the spread of the virus in our stores along with advice about who should avoid coming in to see us so we can help protect our customers and team members.Find out more
* 2015 American Journal of Infection Control Study