How COVID-19 Can Affect Your Eyes

February 6th, 2021

Among other concerns generated by the coronavirus, you may wonder if it can impact your vision. We sat down with our eye care specialists in Mesa and Chandler to find out what doctors know. Permanent eye damage seems unlikely, but you may get conjunctivitis, also called pink eye, as an early indicator of COVID-19 infection.

If you have any questions regarding your eye health, set up an appointment with a Swagel Wootton Eye Institute eye doctor. We can assist you with all your eyecare needs, including cataract and LASIK surgery in Arizona. Keep reading to learn how the novel coronavirus may affect your vision.

What Happens When COVID-19 Droplets Get in Your Eyes?

There’s no conclusive evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through the eyes. However, your eyes contain mucous membranes, which the coronavirus infects in other areas of the body, like the nose and mouth Theoretically, infected droplets that land in the conjunctiva, or mucous membranes that line your eye, could make you susceptible to the disease.

However, COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets. You should avoid touching potentially infected surfaces, then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. Wash your hands often to avoid infection.

Does Cleaning Your Eyes with Eyedrops Decrease Your Risk of Infection?

Your eye has its own protective mechanisms. Natural lubrication and antimicrobial protein keep the surface clean. Flushing your eyes with water can strip away the protective barriers and actually increase your chance of getting an infection. However, you can use artificial tears recommended by your doctor to alleviate irritated eyes.

Does Wearing Contact Lenses Put Me at Risk for COVID-19?

If you practice good hygiene, wearing contact lenses does not increase your chance of catching COVID-19. However, if you touch your eyes a lot after touching surfaces that may contain the coronavirus, you could be more at risk of infection. Out of an abundance of caution, you may want to switch to glasses during the global pandemic. Glasses can also reduce irritation caused by wearing contact lenses for long periods of time.

Do People With COVID-19 Get Pinkeye?

Some people get conjunctivitis after becoming infected with the novel coronavirus. However, not everyone with COVID-19 gets pinkeye. Those who do get pinkeye with COVID-19 often get it in the early stages of the disease.

What Are the Risks of Eye Damage if You Have COVID-19?

Those with COVID-19 may get conjunctivitis. however, this is a temporary condition. So far, doctors do not think that COVID-19 frequently leads to permanent eye damage. However, those with respiratory distress may have oxygen deprivation issues that could lead to a number of eye problems. This may include optic nerve or retinal damage as well as any issues caused by the virus itself.

Contact our eye care specialists in Mesa and Chandler if you would like to set up a telehealth appointment to better understand the risk associated with COVID-19 and eye health. If you are healthy and do not have any signs of COVID-19 infection, make an appointment to speak with one of the eye doctors at Swagel Wootton Eye Institute regarding your questions and concerns.