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Can wearing contacts increase your chances of catching COVID-19?

Switching to eyeglasses could prevent exposure

DETROIT – There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there about the coronavirus, so Local 4 is letting viewers submit questions so we can find verified answers.

Click here if you want to submit a question about the coronavirus.

Dr. Frank McGeorge wants to verify or refute any information about the coronavirus, but there are also some questions experts still don’t know the answer to. McGeorge is discussing them because acknowledging what we don’t know is just as important as verifying information so people don’t rely on incorrect answers.

Can wearing contacts increase your chances of catching COVID-19?

Yes. Experts believe wearing contact could increase your risk of exposure to coronavirus.

You can become infected if coronavirus gets in your eyes and because of that, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends users wear glasses whenever possible.

There are two reasons for that.

“Many people who wear contact lenses find themselves touching their eyes to adjust the lenses,” said Dr. George Williams, the chair of Ophthalmology at Beaumont Royal Oak. “We obviously are in a period with the pandemic where we want to avoid touching our face as much as possible.”

Also, since coronavirus can hang in the air for a period of time, wearing glasses provides an additional barrier between your eyes and the world.

If you do need to wear your contact lenses, use extra caution.

“For individuals who must wear their contacts, it’s critical that they exercise meticulous hand hygiene,” Williams said.

That means washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds or more before and after touching your lenses.

The bottomline is that switching to your glasses is a safer option overall right now -- especially if you’re going out in a public place.

MORE: Questions about coronavirus (COVID-19)? Ask Dr. McGeorge

MORE: What the CDC says you should do if you believe you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

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 own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Read more about coronavirus here.


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