How to Protect Your Eyes From the Coronavirus

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Woman's eyes
Irina Bg /

We take many steps — incessant hand-washing, wearing face masks, staying 6 feet from everybody — in our seemingly never-ending efforts to keep the coronavirus away.

But for many people, one vulnerable part of the body — the eyes — goes unprotected.

Experts say it is possible for the coronavirus to infect you through your peepers.

Virologist and epidemiologist Joseph Fair told NBC’s “Today” show that he likely was infected with the coronavirus through his eyes.

Fair believes he contracted the virus on an airline flight, where he took precautions to protect himself — including wearing a mask and gloves — but did not cover his eyes.

Doctors tell AARP they believe the coronavirus can enter the body through the mucous membranes that cover the white parts of the eyes — although you are much more likely to become infected through the nose and mouth.

Dr. Viral Juthani, assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, tells AARP:

“You can also become infected if you touch a contaminated surface that has coronavirus on it, like a handle or doorknob, and then touch your eyes.”

Protecting your eyes from the coronavirus

While the risk of becoming infected through the eyes is low, it’s not zero. So, here are some steps that AARP suggests might keep your eyes virus-free:

Don’t touch your eyes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been trying to break people of the bad habit of touching their nose, mouths or eyes. If your hands are contaminated with the virus, touching your face — including your eyes — can give the germs an entry point into your body.

Wear glasses when possible. Millions of us view wearing eyeglasses as a necessary nuisance that helps us see better. But those spectacles can have a protective effect. Not only do glasses offer a barrier to germs, but wearing them may make you less likely to touch your eyes, AARP notes. Wraparound glasses offer the best protection.

Reconsider contact lenses. AARP notes that people who forget to thoroughly wash their hands before taking out or putting in contact lenses risk infecting themselves. So, if you plan to touch contact lenses, wash your hands thoroughly first.

For more on staying healthy, check out:

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