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AOA Reiterates CDC Guidance on Safe Contact Lens Wear During COVID-19

Contact lenses remain an acceptable form of vision correction for healthy individuals during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

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(PRESS RELEASE) ST. LOUIS — The American Optometric Association (AOA) and doctors of optometry nationwide are reinforcing that with proper hygiene practices, contact lenses can continue to be worn safely during the COVID-19 pandemic—supporting guidance recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The latest information from the CDC around contact lenses amid the COVID-19 public health crisis underscores the long-term recommendations from the AOA on this issue,” says AOA President Barbara L. Horn, O.D. “The amount of misinformation can be overwhelming, which is why now, more than ever, the public needs straightforward and accurate health-related guidance. As America’s primary eye health care physicians, doctors of optometry continue to be a top source for eye health and vision information that patients can trust.”

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The AOA and CDC make it clear that there is currently no evidence to suggest contact lens wearers are more at risk for acquiring COVID-19 than eyeglass wearers. The guidance also clarifies that wearing spectacles or regular eyeglasses are not proven to provide protection against COVID-19 or other viral transmissions.

However, while contact lenses provide a safe and effective form of vision correction for more than 40 million Americans, they are not entirely risk free. The AOA found that up to 90 percent of contact lens wearers do not follow the proper hygiene instructions for their lenses, which can pose serious risks to eye health and vision. Practicing safe contact lens wear and care hygiene habits, such as washing hands with soap and water before handling lenses, is important to help prevent transmission of any contact lens-related infections.

“Clean and safe handling of contact lenses is the most critical aspect of successful long-term wear, particularly during this public health crisis” says Pamela Lowe, O.D., F.A.A.O, chair of the AOA Contact Lens & Cornea Section. “As always, when the necessary steps are taken to protect their eye health and vision, healthy individuals can continue to wear and care for their contact lenses as prescribed by their eye doctor.”

The AOA recommends the following tips to help ensure proper wear and care for contact lenses during the coronavirus pandemic:

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  • Always practice good hygiene and follow proper safety precautions when handling lenses. It has been noted that contact lens wearers touch their faces and eyes when inserting and removing lenses, which can spread germs.
  • Exercise proper hand washing. When using contact lenses or spectacles, wash your hands carefully and thoroughly with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds, followed by hand drying with unused paper towels. This should occur before every contact lens insertion and removal. People should avoid touching their face, including their eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
  • Disinfect contact lenses. Contact lens wearers should either dispose of their daily disposable lenses each evening, or regularly disinfect non-disposable lenses according to instructions from the manufacturer and one’s eye doctor.
  • Discontinue lens wear if sick. Consistent with recommendations for other types of illness, those who feel ill with cold or flu-like symptoms should cease contact lens wear.

For more information about eye health and COVID-19 and to find a local AOA doctor of optometry, go here.

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