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Contact lens organisations provide clarity amidst COVID-19 concerns

Amidst the public concern over the spread of coronavirus, contact lens experts have spoken out to dispel myths over the safety of wearing contact lenses

contact lens on finger
Credit: Pixabay/Martin Slavoljubovski

Research scientists, associations and suppliers are among those reassuring consumers of the safety of wearing contact lenses during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The director of Eurolens Research at the University of Manchester, Philip Morgan, the director of the Centre for Ocular Research and Education (CORE) at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Lyndon Jones, and the associate vice president research and professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry in the US, Jason Nichols, have shared guidance for professionals and consumers, advising they “heed sound, evidence-based practices.”

The research scientists pointed out that “myths and misinformation” have recently arisen, confirming in a statement: “Contact lens wear remains a safe and highly effective form of vision correction for millions of people worldwide.”

The professionals added that careful and thorough handwashing with soap and water is “essential” for contact lens and spectacle wearers.

As certain viruses, such as those that cause COVID-19 can remain on hard surfaces for hours to days, which can then be transferred to spectacles wearers’ fingers and faces, the research scientists shared guidance for disinfection. This included reminders to dispose of daily disposable lenses each evening, or regularly disinfect their monthly and two-week lenses according to manufacturer and professional instructions.

These concerns could be especially true for presbyopes, the scientists said, many of whom require reading glasses and may be putting glasses on and taking them off several times a day.

“This age group appears to be among the more vulnerable population for developing COVID-19, as compared with contact lens wearers, who are typically younger,” they said.

The guidance also confirmed: “There is no scientific evidence that wearing spectacles or glasses provide protection against COVID-19 or other viral transmissions.”

Despite myths and misinformation…contact lens wear remains a safe and highly effective form of vision correction for millions of people worldwide

 

This sentiment was echoed in a statement released by the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) for eye care practitioners, sharing guidance regarding COVID-19.

“There is no evidence to date that contact lens wear should be avoided by healthy individuals, or that contact lens wearers are more at risk for a coronavirus infection compared to those wearing spectacles,” the association confirmed. The BCLA also stated there was no evidence to suggest any correlation between using contact lenses and the spread of COVID-19.

The research scientists and the association both highlighted that it is advised not to wear contact lenses when unwell, particularly if experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms.

Remaining productive in challenging times

As the UK steps up measures as part of the ‘delay’ phase for the containment of COVID-19, contact lens companies have also been taking steps to reduce unnecessary travel and contact.

Sama Eyewear shared that amongst the “challenging times” the company has taken “necessary steps to remain productive, yet vigilant.”

In order to reduce face-to-face contact, the company announced it is suspending all salesperson travel activities until further notice.

“We are hoping this step will reduce the transmission of the disease through human contact,” the company said in a statement, adding that more updates would be provided as daily activities return to normal.

Meanwhile the company confirmed the offices would remain open and staff would be available by email, phone and Facetime, adding: “We are running at full speed.”

The company also revealed that an ‘enhanced’ business ordering platform will soon be ready to provide a fully automated online purchasing platform to further ease the ordering process.

Johnson & Johnson is also taking precautions to support employees, whilst, “at the same time, we are working to serve the needs of those who depend on our critical medicines, devices and products,” the company said in a statement.

The Johnson & Johnson facilities will remain open, and office-based employees who can work remotely have moved to a ‘work from home’ approach.

“For those whose work in a facility is essential to advancing our science or ensuring the supply of our most essential products, we are committed to their health and safety as they continue to work onsite,” the company said in a statement.

CooperVision told OT it was monitoring the outbreak, adding: “We are not aware of any employees who have been directly affected.”

“Our teams are reviewing guidance from local and global health agencies regarding preventative practices and taking appropriate measures. We have advised employees to limit non-essential business travel, substituting in-person meetings with video conferences and phone calls if possible,” the company said in a statement.

The company highlighted its “robust” business continuity plans covering a range of potential challenges, adding: “As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we continue to review these plans for resiliency and viability and act as needed.”

Commenting on any potential concerns or misinformation surrounding contact lens use, CooperVision also confirmed: “There is currently no evidence to suggest that there is any increased risk of infection or contracting coronavirus through contact lens wear.”

The company reminded wearers to follow “strict hygiene measures” along with “optimal wear and care procedures.”

OT endeavours to keep the most up-to-date news on our website and this information was correct when published. However, the situation regarding the novel coronavirus is rapidly evolving. Please check OT’s rolling optics-specific coverage for the latest news and guidance on coronavirus.

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