Before starting this blog, I checked my first post about wearing contact lenses. It was published way back in 2013. Oh my gosh, it means that I’ve been wearing contact lenses for seven years now! I wear contact lenses every time I go out of the house. The feeling is very liberating—freedom from eyeglasses. However, I stopped wearing contact lenses since the start of the community lockdown because according to health experts, the virus that causes COVID-19 can enter the body through the mouth, nose and eyes. In early March, I felt unsure if wearing contact lenses is still safe, so I opted to switch to glasses in the meantime during this pandemic.
After much research, in the last week of April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put this concern to rest. It says that there’s no evidence suggesting contact lens wearers are more at risk than eyeglass wearers. While this is good news, there can still be a risk if proper eye care and good hygiene is not practiced. The main points are to always wash hands well before inserting or taking out the contact lenses and avoid rubbing or itching the eyes.
To further learn about the do’s and dont’s of contact lens wear in the time of COVID-19, I’ve attended a webinar hosted by Alcon, the global leader in eye care. In this post, I’m sharing the 5 facts you need to know about contact lens wear and coronavirus and more tips below.
Eye Care and Contact Lens Wear During the Coronavirus Pandemic
1. You can keep wearing your contact lenses.
I especially prefer wearing contacts nowadays when wearing a face mask outside is required because of three reasons. First is contact lenses can be an instant upgrade to your look. I always wear colored but natural looking lenses instead of clear ones. Second is I tend to touch my face more often when wearing glasses to lift them up to proper place. Third is my eyeglasses fog up when I wear a face mask.
The good news is there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 transmission by handling of contact lenses. Standard contact lens care techniques should be adequate during the coronavirus pandemic.
2. Good hygiene habits are critical.
As you know, touching your face and eyes when inserting and removing contact lenses may pose a risk to getting infected with the virus. It’s important to exercise proper and regular hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds followed by hand drying with unused and clean paper towels. Remember: cleaning hands with alcohol is not enough.
3. Regular glasses do not provide protection.
Just when I thought that eyeglasses can shield the eyes from infected respiratory droplets, a position supported by the US Center for Disease Control and Protection says that there is no scientific evidence that wearing spectacles or glasses provides protection against COVID-19 or other viral transmissions. This is because the virus can still reach your eyes from the exposed sides, tops, and bottoms of your glasses.
4. Keep unwashed hands away from your face.
Whether you’re wearing contact lenses or eyeglasses, if you can break the natural habit of touching your face with unwashed hands, you can lower your risk of infection. Sometimes you can’t help to feel an urge to itch or rub your eye or even to adjust your glasses. Instead of using your fingers, use a clean tissue or consider adding moisturizing drops to your eye routine.
5. Discontinue wearing contact lenses if you are sick with any symptoms.
Getting sick is not fun, and it’s especially unpleasant when you have eye discomfort. So when you’re fighting off any sickness or infection, the best thing you can do for your eyes is give it a rest from contacts. This can help prevent discomfort like dry eyes, blurry vision, and pink eye. You may resume using fresh, new contact lenses and lens cases once you return to full health.
Which Contact Lens is Best For You?
If you’re a novice contact lens wearer, choosing the best contact lens may be daunting and overwhelming. I’ve used several brands already and from my experience, Air Optix is still the most comfortable one. It’s the first ever brand of contacts I’ve tried. 🙂
- AIR OPTIX® plus HydraGlyde®, with SmartShield® Technology is designed for the new contact lens wearer (or upgrade on lens technology) who wants long-lasting performance. Why you’d want it: it’s the first and only colored contact lenses with very high oxygen (six times more breathable* than the leading color contact lenses). These contacts can be worn up to 18-20 hours a day and can be used daily for 30 days or a month.
- Air Optix Colors: P1,595
- DAILIES® AquaComfort® Plus, with Blink-Activated Moisture Technology is designed for the contact lens wearer who wants the ultimate contact lens wearing experience. If you want contacts that feel like nothing but with exceptional comfort and visual acuity, this is for you. If you’re not a regular contacts wearer (like you only plan to wear contacts once or twice a week, this is also for you. Just dispose once used.
- Dailies Aqua Comfort Plus: P1,495
- FreshLook contacts are designed for the expressive beauty consumer who wants enhanced eye color and definition. Take a pick from fresh and bright colors and feel more attractive, expressive, and confident. These contacts feature a 3-in-1 technology so the color of your eyes will come out naturally. Most popular colors are blue, green, gray, and pure hazel.
- Freshlook Colorblends (monthly): P1,195
- Freshlook One-Day: P1,095
Contact Lens Care Systems and Solutions
Of course, a great contact lens wearing experience won’t be complete without the best contact lens solution. Again, I’ve tried several brands of contacts solutions, but the best is still the first I’ve had—Opti-Free, also by Alcon. Opti-Free (300ml) costs P349.
The “platinum standard of contact lens wear” by Alcon is their AOSEPT PLUS ® with HydraGlyde®, which kills 99.9% of all micro-organisms. It has a triple action cleansing that deeply cleans lenses, carries away deposits and debris, and lifts away protein. What’s good is that it’s suitable for all type of contact lenses.
The AoSept Plus solution ensures your contact lenses remain comfortable for even up to 16 hours of wear. It’s ideal for those looking for a contact lens solution with high level cleaning and disinfection efficacy. It can just be a bit tricky to use it.
First, you have to place the contact lenses into the barrel case that it comes with. Second, fill in the barrel with the solution until the line. Third, leave it (without shaking the barrel) for six hours or more. Then, watch the “magic” of disinfecting happen.
This hydrogen peroxide solution is not multi-purpose, so please make sure to wait up to the recommended six hours for complete neutralization. The result is a preservative-free solution proven to not cause further irritation to the eyes. When you want to wear your contacts, open the barrel, get the contact lens and put them directly on your eye. Note that the AoSept Plus solution is good for 100 uses (around 2-3 months).
Dry eyes a problem? To maintain eye moisture, using lubricant eye drops like Systane Ultra can provide instant relief and extended protection. 1-2 drops are enough to lubricate and refresh your eyes. There’s no such thing as “overusing” of Systane Ultra, since it doesn’t contain steroids. There are several types of Systane, for mild and severe dry eye problems and those sensitive to preservatives. So make sure to visit the eye clinic to know which one will be best for you.
Other Tips and Key Takeaways
- Do not wear lenses more than the scheduled period. One of the best lessons I learned from the webinar is that you should still replace your lenses according to the recommended replacement schedule, even if you don’t wear them every day.
- Never reuse old contact lens solution. Change your solution daily or as recommended by the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s important to do this even if you don’t use your lenses daily.
- After inserting the lenses, discard the solution and clean the lens case with contact lens solution (not water!). Dry the lens case with a clean tissue and let it dry upside down on a tissue.
- Try daily disposable contact lenses. This may help reduce opportunities for surface inflammation and infection that are associated with reusable monthly replacement contact lenses.
- Contact your eye doctor if you are experiencing a severe condition or an eye emergency.