Dear Academy Members:
At the American Academy of Optometry, we believe it is extremely important to update the membership during this highly stressful time and provide the latest science on the use of contact lenses during this COVID-19 pandemic.
A new study
published in March of the 2020 edition of Ophthalmology on COVID-19 patients, found that there was no evidence of the virus in tear samples collected from 17 patients from Day 3 to Day 20 of active symptoms.
Recognizing that this is very early data and with a small representative sample size, the study suggests a low risk of ocular transmission which is good news.
As you know, there is no scientific evidence that contact lens wear is problematic during this pandemic and these early results are encouraging. It is certainly time to reinforce rigorous hygiene with contact lens wear. Without further evidence to the contrary, the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) believes that contact lenses can still be safely worn as long as people follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance on hand washing as well as their optometrist’s strict contact lens hygiene protocols.
The research literature is clear on how to prevent contact lens infections of all kinds, such as bacteria, viral and fungal diseases. Contact lens wearers must:
- Wash hands thoroughly, at least 20 seconds with soap and water, and dry hands completely.
- Use daily disposable contact lenses if possible.
- If solutions are required, use them appropriately. Specifically, do not top-up or re-use solutions.
- Replace cases monthly or more frequently. Rinse wipe and air-dry contact lens cases every day.
- Do not wear contact lenses when you are ill.
- Do not sleep in your contact lenses unless it is medically necessary.
Practitioners must also follow strict contact lens hygiene within the office:
- Do not reuse contact lens cases in office.
- Do not reuse trial contact lenses without a proper disinfection. Refer to the AAO CCLRT Disinfection Procedures.
In a time of constant uncertainty and bad news, we see this as a ray of hope for practitioners and their patients that still need to live functional and fulfilling lives.