Practicing Safe Eye Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The last few months have been anything but ordinary. Adjusting to working from home, social distancing, and wearing a mask has been a roller coaster of emotions, to put it lightly. Like many of you all, the team at WebEyeCare is working to find our new normal. The COVID-19 pandemic has raised new questions about how people use their eye care products, and there's no better time to take an in-depth look into how to practice safe eye care both now and in the future.
• What is COVID-19?
• COVID and eye health
• Eye care tips for pandemic living
• How to protect your eyes during the new normal
• COVID Guidelines
What is a Coronavirus?
If you would've asked people six months ago what a coronavirus was, chances are the majority of people wouldn't have been able to tell you. Although many people use COVID-19 and coronavirus interchangeably, it's crucial to understand the difference between them.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the coronavirus family is a group of viruses that cause a variety of respiratory tract infections ranging from mild to deadly. Of the seven strains of coronavirus, four produce typically mild infections, such as variations of the common cold, pneumonia, and bronchitis. At the same time, three — MERS, SARS, and COVID-19 — fall on the deadlier end of the virus family's impact.
In late 2002, an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) began circulating in Asia. Overall, the outbreak lasted two years, with 8,096 confirmed cases with 774 deaths in 29 countries. The majority of patients experienced a fever, shortness of breath, and dry cough, with between 14 and 20 percent of people infected requiring the use of a ventilator.
In 2012, the first case of MERS, also known as the Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus, was identified in Saudi Arabia. This specific coronavirus infected humans, camels, and bats and has seen outbreaks in three separate years: 2012, 2015, and 2018. As of November of 2019, there were 2,494 confirmed cases of MERS and 858 deaths. People infected with MERS experienced fever, shortness of breath, and a dry cough, with 24.5 percent ultimately requiring the use of assisted ventilation. Although MERS has the highest case fatality rate of the three deadly strands, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) did not see a high rate of community spread in cases of infection, meaning high rates of transmission with untraceable origins.
What is COVID-19?
In mid-December 2019, officials in Wuhan, China, reported an outbreak of pneumonia in the city. On December 31, researchers were able to identify the outbreak's cause as a new or novel strain of coronavirus. The novel strain was initially called 2019-nCoV by WHO, and then later officially named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses, although the world has more commonly dubbed the virus COVID-19. The virus has a 70 percent genetic similarity to the strain of coronavirus that caused SARS.
According to the WHO, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever and dry cough, with nearly 90 and 70 percent of people reporting each symptom, respectively. Nearly 20 percent of people experience shortness of breath, while approximately 14 percent experience a sore throat. Unlike MERS, COVID-19 has a very high rate of person-to-person transmission.
The Impact of COVID-19
An analytical dashboard set up by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at John Hopkins University tracks up-to-the-hour data. As of mid-July 2020, there were more than 14 million confirmed cases in 188 countries around the world, with more than 600,665 people losing their lives to the virus.
The United States has the highest numbers of confirmed cases and deaths by a country with over 3,641,300 and over 139,100, respectively. In the United States, the five states with the highest death rates are New York with over 32,450, New Jersey with 15,650, Massachusetts with 8,400, California with 7,500, and Illinois with 7,450.
COVID-19 and Overall Health
Practicing proper hygiene is essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Although scientists and researchers worldwide are working to develop a vaccine, an FDA approved preventative treatment may not be mass-produced for at least another year. The best way to avoid getting sick from COVID-19 is to prevent exposure to the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research shows that the virus spreads mainly from person to person. When a person infected with the virus sneezes, coughs, or talks, respiratory droplets can travel through the air and into the noses or mouths of nearby people. It's also possible for the droplets to be inhaled through the mouth into the lungs. Wearing a mask and practicing social distancing is crucial to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
One of the most important statistics to consider with COVID-19 is the rate of asymptomatic infected people. According to a June 2020 research study cited in the Annals of Internal Medicine, between 40 and 45 percent of people infected with COVID-19 remain asymptomatic, meaning they feel no impact of the virus and instead carry on their lives. Asymptomatic people could potentially infect people they come into contact with if they aren't wearing a mask or practicing social distancing.
The CDC recommends that everyone follow basic personal hygiene practices to reduce the risk of transmission and infection from COVID-19. These recommendations include:
• Hand washing
• Wearing a face mask and avoiding close contact
• Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
• Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly
• Monitor your health regularly for signs and symptoms
Hand Washing and COVID-19
Washing or sanitizing your hands is one of the best ways to prevent yourself from becoming infected with COVID-19. It's also imperative that you avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose with unclean hands. The CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially concerning these activities:
• Before and after preparing or eating food
• Before touching your face
• After using the bathroom
• After being out in public
• After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
• After touching your face mask
• Before and after caring for someone who may be sick
• After touching pets or animals
If you do not have easy access to soap and hot water, the CDC recommends using a reputable hand sanitizer made with at least 60 percent alcohol. Also, be sure to research the brand of hand sanitizer you're purchasing. Recent reports have documented several brands of hand sanitizers that contain dangerous chemicals and can do more harm than good.
Face Masks and Social Distancing
When in public, it's essential to wear a face mask or other face-covering to protect yourself and others from the COVID-19 virus. Face masks are especially important when social distancing - maintaining a distance of at least six feet between yourself and others - is impossible. However, a face mask is not a replacement for social distancing. Maintaining a safe social distance is especially important for those at an elevated risk of becoming sick, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.
Before purchasing a face mask, ensure that it is not the type for healthcare workers. Unfortunately, N95 respirators and surgical masks are in short supply, and you should reserve them for the first responders and those working in health fields.
Cover Your Cough
Preventing your respiratory droplets from spreading to other people is essential to keeping your friends, family, coworkers, and community safe. In addition to wearing a face mask, always cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, using a tissue if possible. Always throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands and disinfect anything you may have touched or contaminated.
Cleaning and Disinfecting All Surfaces
It's essential to disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in your home and office regularly. These surfaces include doorknobs, countertops, phones, faucets and sinks, tables, light switches, desks, and toilets. Don't forget to wipe down your car keys, wallet, purse, and cell phone to remove any germs that may have been transferred to those items while shopping or running errands.
Monitor Your Health and Symptoms
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, shortness of breath, and sore throat. Although many of these symptoms can mimic those of a common cold or allergies, it's essential to be proactive. If you have been running errands, in an office environment, or in situations where you could not maintain social distancing, these symptoms could mean you have COVID-19. When in doubt, always air on the side of caution and request a COVID-19 test or consult with your primary care doctor.
COVID-19 and Eye Health
Although the spread of COVID-19 predominantly happens through respiratory droplets entering your nose or mouth, it's also possible to become infected if droplets enter your eyes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology has four significant eye care recommendations for staying safe during the pandemic:
• Consider switching to glasses instead of contacts
• Wear sunglasses or safety goggles if necessary
• Ensure you have access to prescription eye care products if necessary
• Be extra careful when using eye care drops or using contacts
• Avoid all unnecessary contact with your eyes
Eye Care During COVID: Glasses or Contacts?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, there is no reason to believe that wearing contacts instead of glasses increases your risk of exposure to COVID-19. However, people who wear contacts touch their eyes more than ordinary people. If you wear contacts and know that you tend to touch your eyes throughout the day, it may be worth switching to glasses for a while. Contacts tend to feel invisible once you put them in. Glasses can cause you to pause before touching your eyes and give you time to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer.
One major complaint eye care professionals have seen when it comes to protecting against COVID-19 is how glasses tend to fog up when wearing a mask. Although it can seem like a silly problem in the grand scheme of things, fogged-up glasses can be frustrating and dangerous, especially when driving.
No matter what, don't remove your glasses, especially safety glasses, to avoid foggy vision. Instead, follow these simple tips and tricks to ensure clearer vision, safety, and maintain proper eye care practices.
• Use a mask with a fitted nose piece. If your mask doesn't fit properly, warm air can travel up and cause the lenses on your glasses to become fogged up. After you put on your mask, pinch the top of your mask to contour to the shape of your nose. If necessary, use athletic tape or a bandage to seal the mask around your nose area for an even tighter fit.
• Purchase an anti-fogging eye care product. Companies sell a variety of products that help prevent glasses from fogging up. If you don't have access to this type of eye care products, try washing the lenses of your glasses with mild soap and rinsing with water before putting them on.
• Adjust your glasses. Moving your glasses down your nose a bit can increase the airflow between your mask and your glasses and help reduce foggy lenses.
• Adjust your mask: In addition to moving your glasses, you can also pull your mask up on your nose and rest the bridge of your glasses on top of your mask. Positioning your glasses on top of your mask can help reduce the flow of warm air. However, always ensure that your mask covers your nose and mouth when adjusting it.
Glasses as Protective Eye Care
Prescription glasses, sunglasses, and safety glasses can provide additional protection for your eyes during the pandemic. Although glasses don't provide complete eye care coverage to prevent infection, they can still be a good choice for people interacting with those who may be sick or in a situation where social distancing isn't possible.
Access to Prescription Eye Care Products
COVID-19 has highlighted the types of products that people believe will be the most important during a quarantine situation. Although toilet paper seems to be making a comeback, having access to eye care products such as prescription eye drops, contacts, or contacts solution can be critical. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if it is possible to obtain multiple months of prescription eye care essentials and stock up on items that you may use more of if unable to leave your home. As always, never wait until the last minute to renew a prescription or purchase an eye care product.
Eye Care During COVID: Visiting the Doctor
Unfortunately, the importance of practicing proper eye care doesn't stop for a pandemic. Whether you're scheduled for an annual check-up, picking up a new prescription for glasses or contacts, or need to address a medical eye issue you're experiencing, many of us will inevitably have to visit an optometrist or ophthalmologist while we battle the pandemic. Venturing out may bring about feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and uncertainty. However, there are plenty of things you can do and ways that eye care providers are working to keep patients safe.
• Wear a mask
• Ask about new policies and procedures
• Know when to reschedule
• Keep your hands clean
• Utilize an online company for contacts and glasses prescriptions
Wear a Mask For Eye Care Appointments
When visiting your eye care provider, ensure you wear your mask to protect yourself and others. Many states have also put regulations in place that require people to wear a mask when in public. Ensure you will not miss your eye care appointment by remembering your mask.
Eye Care Provider Policies and Procedures
When scheduling your glasses or contacts appointment, ask your eye care provider about any new policies and procedures in place due to COVID-19. Many businesses are operating at reduced capacity and have changed their check-in procedures to maintain social distancing and safety of visitors and staff.
When to Reschedule Your Eye Care Appointment
Mild symptoms of COVID-19 can seem similar to allergies or a common cold. In many cases, you may not experience symptoms at all but can still be contagious. It's crucial to know when you should reschedule your eye care appointment to protect yourself and others. If you have any symptoms, if you were exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or have pending test results, you should reschedule your eye care appointment. If you need your glasses fixed or need to pick up additional contacts, make sure to call ahead and see if there is an option for you to drop off your glasses or have your contacts mailed to you.
Maintain Eye Care Cleanliness
If you wear glasses or contacts, there are times during your eye care exam that may require you to put contacts in or take them out. You also may experience irritation or discomfort during your exam and want to itch your eyes. Make sure you have access to soap and water or hand sanitizer to clean your hands before and after touching your eyes.
Shop Online for Glasses and Contacts
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the way we use technology. Whether you're keeping in touch with loved ones or working from home, technology has a significant impact on our lives, especially right now. That's where WebEyeCare comes in. WebEyeCare offers customers incredible prices on prescription contacts, glasses, and other accessories, all from the comfort of your own home. The company also offers vision tests for those who have glasses or contacts to renew their prescriptions digitally through a licensed eye care provider — no dilation or scary air puffs required.
At WebEyeCare, our team is dedicated to providing our customers with 100% authentic contacts and glasses directly from dozens of manufacturers. We guarantee the lowest prices and free shipping. With over 10 million lenses sold, you can’t go wrong with WebEyeCare. Visit our website to learn more about eye health and shop our selection of glasses, contacts!
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