March 27 Update
Statement on CoVid-19 and Contact Lenses
By Clarke D. Newman, OD, FAAO, FBCLA, FSLS, FNAP
This morning, several stories were filed on various outlets (CNN and WFAA) that recommends that contact lens wearers discontinue their contact lenses during the CoVid-19, or SARS CoVid-2, pandemic. These stories cite a March 10th public service announcement by the American Academy of Ophthalmology for this claim.
Let’s keep this information in perspective. First, there is no valid scientific evidence that wearing contact lenses increases your chance of contracting CoVid-19. Yes, touching your eyes can be a “vector” of transmission, but it is a fairly weak route of transmission according to the research. Further, touching your eyes is only a vector if you have not washed your hands thoroughly before handling your lenses. It is always proper to wash your hands for at least twenty seconds before touching your eyes or your lenses.
This virus is mostly transmitted via the “Droplet Vector.” That is, people cough or sneeze around you, and you breathe in these droplets. That is why the social distancing is so important in “flattening the curve” of transmission.
There is also zero scientific evidence that wearing glasses offers any additional protection. Since the droplet vector is the primary route of transmission, glasses offer very little protection unless some coughs right in your face. Even in that event, you are likely to get infected by breathing in the droplets. If a loosely fitting mask offers little protection to a healthy person, wearing glasses offers even less.
Certainly, if discontinuing your contact lens wear makes you feel more comfortable during this pandemic, then you should do so. Just understand, there is no scientific evidence to support the claims made by the Academy of Ophthalmology. Contact lens wear is not a risk if you are socially distancing and washing and disinfecting your hands properly.
To the Plaza Vision Center Family,
Dr. Newman and Dr. Chen are carefully assessing the needs of our patients, and we are modifying our policies to slow the transmission of the Coronavirus Pandemic through our community while still being available to handle your eye care needs.
Please be assured that we are available to treat all urgent and emergent issues as well as help you with navigating other matters during this challenging time.
The CDC has many wonderful resources. Arming yourself and your family with clear information will help you avoid undue stress.
What does all of this mean?
1) We are actively rescheduling elective and routine care. We will continue to have staff available for product orders, pickups, and phone calls. We will be limiting the number of people in the clinic at one time based on recommendations from the Dallas Country Department of Health. As such, Dr. Newman asks that you not bring along others unless absolutely necessary, i.e., for transportation.
2) If you will need a supply of contact lenses in the next two or three months, we are recommending that you order them now. We are extending contact lens prescriptions on a case-by-case basis for up to six months without an evaluation. We will have a link to our webstore. Our distributor will deliver to your home with free shipping for orders of two boxes or more.
3) If you need to replace glasses or need an extension on your glasses prescription, please contact us, and we will assist you in getting a pair of glasses until you can come in for a visit. For existing orders, we can have them delivered to your home and waive the shipping cost.
4) If you are running out of a prescribed medication, please contact us and we can transmit a refill electronically to your pharmacy.
5) If you have an ocular emergency, we are, as always, available to help you at any time.
What is an eye emergency? Usually a sudden onset of:
- Loss of vision or peripheral (side) vision
- Pain in or around the eye—especially if there is pain on eye movement.
- Flashes of light (could be like lightning strikes) or floaters
- Red or pink eye
- Double vision.
- Injury to the eye and the area around it, including chemicals
With our patients that need medically necessary contact lenses (MNCL), sudden pain or lens intolerance (unable to wear lenses) is also considered an eye emergency.
If you have an issue which cannot wait for an office visit, contact us, and we may schedule a FaceTime, Skype, or Telephone appointment with one of our doctors. Medicare has temporarily relaxed its telehealth rules to allow this type of communication during the pandemic crisis. Other insurers may follow suit, and allow for reimbursement of virtual care costs. The consultation must be initiated at your request.
Thank you for your understanding during these difficult times as we look to protect your health, the health of our staff and their families, and the healthcare system. We will get through this time together as a community, and we look forward to serving your eye care needs again in the near future.
With sincerest wishes for your continued good health,
Drs. Newman & Chen and all the staff at Plaza Vision Center