Can coronavirus infect you through your eyes?


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FILE – This April 12, 2018 file photo shows the eye of a woman in New York. Patients are about to be enrolled in the first study to test gene editing inside the body to try to cure an inherited form of blindness. People with the disease have healthy eyes but lack a gene that converts light into signals to the brain that enable sight. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — While coronavirus is typically spread through people breathing or ingesting virus particles from their mouth or nose, did you know it can also enter your body through your eyes?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, another way the virus can be spread is by someone touching a surface containing the virus and then touching or rubbing their eyes.

Additionally, getting the virus in your eyes can exacerbate or start the infection of conjunctivitis — or pink eye — which the AAO says happens in about 1-3% of people with COVID-19.

So what can you do to protect your eyes?

The AAO recommends those with vision impairments to wear glasses instead of contact lenses for the time being.

“Consider wearing glasses more often, especially if you tend to touch your eyes a lot when your contacts are in. Substituting glasses for lenses can decrease irritation and force you to pause before touching your eye,” Dr. Sonal Tuli, a representative of the AAO, advises.

Tuli also says that glasses — or even sunglasses — can help shield your eyes from particles, although not 100%. Coronavirus particles can still reach your eyes from around, under and over your lenses.

If you tend to rub your eyes a lot due to eye dryness, the AAO recommends implementing regular moisturizing eye drop use. Before you do anything with your eyes, however, you should properly wash your hands.

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