Can I get COVID-19 through my eyes?

Reviewed by: David Schanzlin, MD

Can You Get COVID-19 Through Your Eyes?
Vision Tips & Prevention Vision Tips & Prevention

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a pandemic in March 2020. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Coronavirus spread from person to person mainly through airborne “respiratory droplets”, which are released when someone with the virus coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of a person nearby and possibly inhaled into the lungs. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Coronavirus and your eyes All About Vision Go to Source 1

Could you also get Coronavirus through your eyes?

Doctors say infection can get through the eyes just as it does through the nose and mouth if someone with the virus coughs or sneezes nearby. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source These Are the Ways COVID-19 is Transmitted (Or Not... Hartford Healthcare Go to Source 2 The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) explains how the transmission works. When a person infected with the virus coughs, sneezes, or talks, the microscopic droplets containing the virus can splash on your face. You are likely to breathe in these tiny droplets through your mouth or nose. The droplets can enter your body through your eyes as well.

The AAO also says that you may become infected by touching a contaminated surface, picking up the virus on your hands, and then scratching your noses or rubbing your eyes. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source COVID-19 and Your Eye Care American Academy of Ophthalmology Go to Source 3 Medical experts are unsure whether someone can get this virus by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their eyes, mouth, or, nose. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Coronavirus and your eyes All About Vision Go to Source 4

The CDC says on its website, “it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about how it spreads”. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source How to Protect Your Eyes & Others Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Go to Source 5

CDC and the World Health Organization recommend washing your hands for 20 seconds or more with warm water and soap. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Coronavirus and your eyes. All About Vision Go to Source 6

Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, advised washing hands anytime you bring things in your house or going out to touch things and interact with people. Dr.Marcus says in terms of mail or bringing anything in your home like packages or groceries, it is possible that somebody who delivered the package was sick and sneezed on their hands before picking it. You later grab the package and then scratch your nose or rub your eyes with contaminated hands. In this case, the transmission is even though low risk but possible. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Local Health Experts Take Your Coronavirus Questions WBUR Go to Source 7

Bottom line

Safety starts with you! Whether it’s a surface transmission or close human contact, social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your faces, and wearing masks is the best way to protect from Coronavirus.

Stop Touching Your Face: Frequently washing your hands can make a meaningful difference in lowering your risk. However, your hands are only clean until the next surface you touch. You may recontaminate your hand with something when you reach for a doorknob or hand railing. If you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with contaminated hands, then you could inadvertently infect yourself with that organism. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Stop Touching Your Face! The New York Times Go to Source 8 Studies have shown that people touch their faces 23 times in an hour. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source You touch your face 23 times an hour. Here's how to stop... Houston Chronicle Go to Source 9 A behavior change that could prevent infection is not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Stop Touching Your Face! The New York Times Go to Source 10

Switch to Glasses: Contact lens wearers tend to touch their eyes more than the average person. If you wear contacts, consider switching to wearing glasses more often. Substituting glasses for lenses may stop you from touching your face.

Keep in mind that glasses don’t provide 100% security. The virus can still get in your eyes from the open sides of your glasses. For better protection, use safety goggles if you’re caring for a sick patient or potentially exposed person. Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source COVID-19 and Your Eye Care American Academy of Ophthalmology Go to Source 11

Trusetd Source Checkbox  Sources


1 “Coronavirus and your eyes – All About Vision.” 12 Apr. 2020, https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/coronavirus-and-your-eyes/. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.
2 “These Are the Ways COVID-19 is Transmitted (Or Not ….” 12 Mar. 2020, https://hartfordhealthcare.org/about-us/news-press/news-detail?articleid=24686&publicId=395. Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.
3 “COVID-19 and Your Eye Care – AAO.org.” https://www.aao.org/Assets/6d7c9a1a-9242-4326-a75d-9c6c9a827594/637208545943870000/Coronavirus-and-your-eyes-pdf?inline=1. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020
4 “Coronavirus and your eyes – All About Vision.” 12 Apr. 2020,https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/Coronavirus-and-your-eyes/. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.
5 “How to Protect Yourself & Others | CDC.” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-covid-spreads.htmlAccessed 5 Jun. 2020.
6 “Coronavirus and your eyes – All About Vision.” 12 Apr. 2020, https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/Coronavirus-and-your-eyes/. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.
7 “Local Health Experts Take Your Coronavirus Questions – WBUR.” https://www.wbur.org/radioboston/2020/03/24/health-experts-Coronavirus-questions. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.
8 “Stop Touching Your Face! – The New York Times.” 2 Mar. 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/02/well/live/coronavirus-spread-transmission-face-touching-hands.html. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.
9 “You touch your face 23 times an hour. Here’s how to stop ….” 3 Apr. 2020, https://www.houstonchronicle.com/lifestyle/renew-houston/health/article/You-touch-your-face-23-times-an-hour-Here-s-15176556.php. Accessed 24 Jun. 2020.
10 “Stop Touching Your Face! – The New York Times.” 2 Mar. 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/02/well/live/coronavirus-spread-transmission-face-touching-hands.html. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.
11“COVID-19 and Your Eye Care – AAO.org.” https://www.aao.org/Assets/6d7c9a1a-9242-4326-a75d-9c6c9a827594/637208545943870000/Coronavirus-and-your-eyes-pdf?inline=1Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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