A privilege getting to share some insights with the community tonight on WCHS/WVAH TV:
Story and Video:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — Conjunctivitis is showing up in 1 percent to 3 percent of coronavirus cases, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The AAO said the virus can be spread by touching fluid from an infected person’s eyes, or from objects that carry the fluid.
Dr. Chris Stansbury is an optometrist at West Virginia Eye Consultants. While he hasn’t seen any of those cases personally, he explains how COVID-19 is transmitted through viral particles that are spread through respiratory droplets.
“That means, when somebody coughs or sneezes, those droplets are out in the atmosphere. You can walk into them, you can receive them directly from someone if they cough into your face,” Stansbury said.
Those droplets could possibly land on your eyes, causing conjunctivitis. Stansbury said wearing glasses right now does provide some additional protection, but for those who wear contact lenses, all of this serves as yet another reminder to wash your hands before touching your eyes.
“That way you’re not transmitting any sort of virus or bacteria to your contacts and to your eyes. So now, it’s even more critical, if you’re a contact lens wearer, to be mindful of that,” Stansbury said.
Stansbury said a lot of the conjunctivitis issues he sees in his office are causes by viruses – but said just because you have pink eye does not mean you have coronavirus.
“Don’t panic. Get to your eye doctor and get it checked. I would not recommend going to the ER because there you may come into contact with people who actually have coronavirus. We can look at the eyes and begin to differentiate – is it allergic? Viral? Bacterial? And then we’ll know how to treat you,” Stansbury said.
Not every optometrist’s office may be open right now, but doctors are on call to help with critical or emergency care, so be sure to call your doctor beforehand.
Another note for those who wear contacts: Stansbury said to make sure to clean your lens case often with hot water and soap and replace it as frequently as your contact solution.