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Coronavirus and Your Eyes – What You Should Know

As coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads around the world, health professionals are demanding that people limit their personal risk of contracting the virus by thoroughly washing their hands, practicing social distancing, and not touching their nose, mouth, or eyes. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that the eyes play an important role in spreading COVID-19.

Coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through droplets that an infected person sneezes or coughs out. These droplets can easily enter your body through the mucous membranes on the face, such as your nose, mouth, and yes — your eyes.

But First, What Is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, causes mild to severe respiratory illness associated with fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Symptoms typically appear within 2 weeks of exposure. Those with acute cases of the virus can develop pneumonia and other life-threatening complications.

Here’s what you should know:

Guard Your Eyes Against COVID-19

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes. Although we all engage in this very normal habit, try to fight the urge to touch your eyes. If you absolutely must, first wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Tears carry the virus. Touching tears or a surface where tears have fallen can spread coronavirus. Make sure to wash your hands after touching your eyes and throughout the day as well.
  • Disinfect surfaces. You can catch COVID-19 by touching an object or surface that has the virus on it, such as a door knob, and then touching your eyes.

Coronavirus and Pink Eye

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, refers to an inflammation of the membrane covering the front of the eyeball. Conjunctivitis is characterized by red, watery, and itchy eyes. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can be spread by coughing and sneezing, too.

According to a recent study in China, viral conjunctivitis may be a symptom of COVID-19. The study found conjunctival congestion in 9 of the 1,099 patients (0.8%) who were confirmed to have coronavirus.

If you suspect you have pink eye, call your eye doctor in Midtown right away. Given the current coronavirus crisis, we ask patients to call prior to presenting themselves at the office of Dr. James Sinoway, as it will allow the staff to assess your condition and adequately prepare for your visit.

Contact Lenses or Eyeglasses?

Many people who wear contact lenses are thinking about switching to eyeglasses for the time being to lower the threat of being infected with coronavirus.

Wearing glasses may provide an extra layer of protection if someone coughs on you; hopefully that infected droplet will hit the lens and not your eye. However, one must still be cautious, as the virus can reach the eyes from the exposed sides, tops and bottoms around your frames. Unlike specialized safety goggles, glasses are not considered a safe way to prevent coronavirus.

Contact Lenses and COVID-19

If you wear contacts, make sure to properly wash your hands prior to removing or inserting them. Consider ordering a 3 to 6 month supply of contact lenses and solution; some opticals provide home delivery of contact lenses and solutions. At this stage there is no recommendation to wear daily lenses over monthlies.

Don’t switch your contact lens brand or solution, unless approved by your optometrist or optician.

Regularly Disinfect Glasses

Some viruses such as coronavirus, can remain on hard surfaces from several hours to days. This can then be transmitted to the wearer’s fingers and face. People who wear reading glasses for presbyopia should be even more careful, because they usually need to handle their glasses more often throughout the day, and older individuals tend to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 complications. Gently wash the lenses and frames with warm water and soap, and dry your eyeglasses using a microfiber cloth.

Stock up on Eye Medicine

It’s a good idea to stock up on important medications, including eye meds, in order to get by in case you need to be quarantined or if supplies run short. This may not be possible for everyone due to insurance limitations. If you cannot stock up, make sure to request a refill as soon as you’re due and never wait until the last minute to contact your pharmacy.

It is important that you continue to follow your doctor’s instructions for all medications.

Digital Devices and Eyestrain

At times like this, people tend to use digital devices more than usual. Take note of tiredness, sore eyes, blurry vision, double vision or headaches, which are symptoms of computer vision syndrome if they are exacerbated by extensive use of digital devices, and might indicate a need for a new prescription in the near future. This usually isn’t urgent, but if you’re unsure, you can call our eye doctor’s office.

Children and Digital Devices

During this time your children may end up watching TV and using computers, tablets and smartphones more frequently and for more extended periods too. Computer vision syndrome, mentioned above, can affect children as well. We recommend limiting screen time to a maximum of 2 hours per day for children, though it’s understandably difficult to control under the circumstances.

Try to get your child to take a 10 to 15 minute break every hour, and stop all screen time for at least 60 minutes before sleep.

Children and Outdoor Play

Please follow local guidelines and instructions regarding outdoor activities for your children. If possible, it’s actually good for visual development to spend 1-2 hours a day outside.

 

From all of us at James Tracey Eye Care in Midtown, we wish you good health and please stay safe.

Visiting Your Optometrist During COVID-19

Is your eye doctor’s appointment coming up? Are you worried about going to the eye clinic during the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic? Rest assured, keeping our patients and staff are safe is our top priority.

We anticipate that this outbreak will continue for a while, and do not want our patients to neglect their eye care needs during this critical time. Our optometric clinic is prudent and has adopted specific measures to protect our patients and staff from potential exposure to COVID-19 during this time of uncertainty.

That said, guidelines for slowing the spread of this epidemic are rapidly changing. Please pay close to attention to local regulatory changes to get the most up-to-date information on whether practices can still remain open/ accept non-emergency cases.

Here Are the Precautions Our Eye Clinic Is Taking to Limit COVID-19:

We employ a strict office policy that mandates that all eye doctors, opticians, office staff, and patients not enter if they are feeling unwell or have a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath, or have been exposed to a known case of COVID-19 or traveled outside of the country within the last 14 days.

The staff may ask you to wait outside rather than in the waiting area in order to protect yourself and others from any circulating germs. Furthermore, we are trying to schedule our appointments in such a way that our waiting room remains as empty as possible.

During your eye exam:

  • The eye doctor may use a special plastic barrier called a slit-lamp breath shield to block the exchange of breath between patient and doctor.
  • The optometrist may wear a mask with a plastic shield over the eyes.
  • The practitioner will wait for your slit-lamp eye exam to be over before speaking with you or answering any questions you may have.
  • We sanitize all equipment and patient contact surfaces after every use and at the end of the day.
  • We sanitize all surfaces and equipment (front desk counters, telephones, pens, door handles, waiting room chairs) with antibacterial wipes.
  • All staff members wash their hands after contact with each patient and throughout the day.
  • Our office is equipped with several sanitizing stations.
  • We request that patients sanitize their hands prior to and after trying on frames. We also make sure to clean frames that have come into contact with patients with soap and hot water.
  • If we don’t shake hands with our patients during this time, please don’t take it personally.

Please call James Tracey Eye Care at 646-916-4588 with any questions or concerns you may have. If you feel it’s best for you or a member of your family to reschedule your appointment, we encourage you to do so.

To stay abreast of the coronavirus pandemic, please visit the following official health organizations:

  • Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) at www.CDC.gov
  • World Health Organization (WHO) at www.WHO.int

Thank you and stay safe!

Emergency Eye Care for Pink Eye

Emergency Eye Care Services - Pink Eye Treatment in James Tracey Eye Care

Emergency Eye Care Services – Pink Eye Treatment at James Tracey Eye Care

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is an eye condition where the conjunctiva – the thin, clear layer lining the white (sclera) of the eye – swells up, causing the eye to appear red. The reddish or pink hue is due to the appearance of inflamed blood vessels in the sclera.

There exist several causes of pink eye, all of which will be discussed below. The term “pink eye” most commonly refers to the viral infection, though it can also be bacterial or allergic in origin.

If you suspect you may have pink eye, call Dr. James Sinoway right away for prompt treatment. While pink eye is a mild eye emergency, delayed treatment can lead to vision or ocular damage.

The 4 Types of Pink Eye

  1. Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a virus and is the most contagious form of the condition. One can easily spread the virus by sneezing or coughing. Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis include watery, itchy, and red eyes along with sensitivity to light (in one or both eyes). This type of pink eye will usually run its course and clear up on its own within a few days without medical treatment. To relieve unpleasant symptoms, apply a cold, wet compress to the affected eye several times a day.
  2. Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by bacteria and can affect either one or both eyes. Symptoms of a bacterial infection include burning, grittiness and a yellow, sticky discharge in the corner of the eye. Bacterial pink eye is contagious and can spread through direct contact with contaminated hands or items that have been in contact with the affected eye. Treatment for bacterial eye infection is vital because, if left untreated, it can result in severe vision damage. Treatment includes antibiotic eye drops and ointments, which improve conjunctivitis in a matter of 3-5 days.
  3. Allergic conjunctivitis is caused by eye allergens or irritants, such as pollen, pet dander, or dust. Symptoms include itchy, watery, or burning eyes, occasionally accompanied by nasal congestion or a runny nose. Since allergic conjunctivitis affects individuals who are sensitive to specific allergens, it is not contagious and always affects both eyes. Allergy medication can help prevent or shorten allergic pink eye flare-ups.
  4. Chemical conjunctivitis, a non-contagious form of pink eye, is caused by chemicals that lead the eye(s) to become irritated and swollen. Certain chemical irritants include smoke, chlorine (in a pool), air pollution, fumes, and other non-toxic chemicals. Symptoms include pain, temporarily decreased vision, redness, and swelling. To treat chemical conjunctivitis, you need to thoroughly flush the eye with clean water or a sterile eye irrigating solution to remove any irritating substances from the eye. Once the chemical is removed, you can use lubricating eye drops to soothe the eye and decrease redness.

Contact lens wearers should remove their contacts if redness occurs and refrain from re-inserting them until the eyes fully heal. A visit to the eye doctor will help determine whether your contact lenses are the cause of your conjunctivitis and will advise on how to avoid a recurrence in the future.

Contact Dr. James Sinoway to determine the root cause and to get the best treatment for your pink eye. This condition tends to be simple to treat and easy to prevent.

Tips for Preventing Pink Eye

Anyone can get conjunctivitis, but these simple precautions can help you dramatically lower your risk.

  • Frequently wash your hands with warm water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds
  • Never share items such as makeup, hand towels, washcloths, or eyeglasses
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes
  • Wear goggles when swimming to shield the eyes from microbes and irritants
  • Replace contact lenses as directed
  • Regularly sanitize household surfaces and handheld devices

We Treat Pink Eye and Other Eye Emergencies

We know that pink eye can cause uncomfortable symptoms, and we’re here to help. Contact Dr. James Sinoway for a complete evaluation of your eye condition and to discuss treatment options. The friendly and experienced staff at James Tracey Eye Care offers more attention and specialized care than one would receive at an urgent care facility, so be sure to choose James Tracey Eye Care in Midtown for any eye emergency you or your loved one may have.

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