Amidst a global pandemic, most routine healthcare services have been suspended to free up resources and protect the public. But even in lockdown, we still need to take care of our general health. Eye health is often brushed over in the context of the COVID-19 lockdown, but sight is one of the most important human senses. The lockdown has led to a delay in routine eye care so we have prepared some tips to help you take care of your eyes during the lockdown.
There have been reports of increased conjunctivitis or pink eye associated with the coronavirus, so avoid rubbing your or other people’s eyes and do not touch eye discharge. If you or your loved ones suffer from a pinkeye, don’t panic but make sure you don’t spread the virus by touching fluid from an infected eye.
If you wear lenses, it might be a good idea to switch to glasses for the time being. This minimises the contact with your eye, and wearing glasses could provide you with an extra layer of protection by shielding your eyes from infected droplets (though there is no specific evidence to suggest glasses protect against COVID-19 infection). If you’re wearing glasses, make sure to sanitise them properly as viruses can remain on surfaces for days.
Try to avoid rubbing your eyes: it’s a habit that’s difficult to break, but doing so will lower your risk of infection. If you find yourself scratching at your eyes often, it could be a sign that they’re irritated or dry.
Speaking of dry eyes, the COVID lockdown has us all working from home, usually extended hours and in front of a computer screen. The increased screen time could be adding strain to your eyes, exacerbating the symptoms of dry and itchy eyes. That’s why it’s important to emphasise on proper eye care during the lockdown. Make sure to adhere to hygiene practices and if you absolutely must rub your eyes, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after.
What to do if you have to treat an eye infection or an eye problem at home? Going to your ophthalmologists might not be an option at the moment. If you’re dealing with red, gritty or sticky eyes—usually a sign of bacterial conjunctivitis—you can buy over-the-counter eye drops. Maintain good eye hygiene and clean your eyes with freshly boiled and cooled tap water and a clean cotton pad (use a different one for each eye).
If in doubt, you should always contact your eye doctor, especially if you suddenly experience flashing lights, new floaters or dark shadows in your vision, any sort of reduction or sudden distortion in your sight, painful eyes and light sensitivity or sudden onset double vision.