Could Glasses Protect Against COVID-19?

Wearing spectacles may lower your chances of contracting the coronavirus, according to a new study from Hubei Province, China. The findings appeared in JAMA Ophthalmology, a medical journal. But does this mean everyone should wear eye protection to prevent COVID-19? Not exactly, says ophthalmologist Thomas Steinemann, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and a professor of ophthalmology at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Ophthalmologists say there’s not enough information to recommend that people start wearing eye protection in addition to masks.

“It’s a provocative and fascinating study. But in the scheme of things, this is a small portion of the population. We’d require a much larger study before making any conclusions about whether wearing glasses really does mean people are touching their eyes less often, and therefore decreasing infection rates,” Dr. Steinemann said.

Coronavirus can spread through the eyes when an infected person coughs or sneezes near your eye or if you touch an infected object before touching your eye.

A possible link between spectacles and the coronavirus

The study came from a curious observation made by researchers in China. They noticed that very few of their sick patients wore glasses, which was remarkable since nearsightedness is common in China. They examined hospital records from patients with Covid-19 to learn more. Of 276 patients admitted to the hospital over a 47-day period, only 16 patients (5.8%) had myopia or nearsightedness that required them to wear glasses for more than eight hours a day.

Earlier research shows that more than 30% of people in the region needed glasses for nearsightedness.

Dr. Steinemann says it could be that glasses serve as a reminder to avoid touching your eyes. It may also be that glasses act as a partial barrier, protecting eyes from the splatter of a cough or sneeze. There are several factors other than wearing glasses that could explain the study’s finding. It could be that people who wear glasses tend to be older and more likely to stay home during the pandemic, compared with people who do not wear glasses. Or maybe people who can afford glasses in China are less likely to contract the virus because they can afford to live in less-crowded spaces.

Should you wear eye protection to prevent COVID-19?

While it’s too soon to say everyone should wear eye protection, Dr. Steinemann said that wearing goggles or face shields does make sense for frontline health care workers and people who care for those with the virus. For the rest of us, wearing a mask, frequent hand washing and practicing social distancing continue to be our best bet against the virus.

Source: www.aao.org/eye-health/news/eyeglasses-protect-against-covid-19-coronavirus


Why face masks can make eyes feel dry, and what you can do about it

Face masks help reduce coronavirus transmission, which has prompted mandates and expert recommendations for their use where social distancing is difficult. As the world emerges from shutdowns, wearing face masks for extended periods of time in settings such as offices will increase.

While these protective measures are essential to combating COVID-19’s spread, a new phenomenon is emerging: increasing reports of dry, uncomfortable eyes. What is the science behind this trend, who is at risk and is there a solution?

Dry eye has become much better understood in recent years, thanks to colleagues from the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) at the University of Waterloo, the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society and other researchers around the world. That knowledge provides a head start on deciphering this latest wrinkle.

Making sense of MADE: Mask-associated dry eye

The term mask-associated dry eye (MADE) was first described by an ophthalmologist in June based on increasing incidents in his office. Additional reports have since circulated, and a recent review further examined the issue.

People with existing dry eye disease report worsening symptoms — a problematic occurrence for the tens of millions of people worldwide who already struggle with the issue. Concurrently, previously asymptomatic patients are flagging uncomfortable eyes and variable vision for the first time, particularly when reading or using digital devices for a long period of time.

Our tear film’s delicate balance

When addressing MADE, it is helpful to understand our tear film, the liquid layer that coats the eye’s surface. This tiny volume of fluid, equivalent to one-tenth of a single water drop, has a highly complex structure and composition. It lubricates the surface of the eye, allowing smooth and comfortable passage of the eyelid during every blink. Ongoing imbalance in the tear film leads to dry eye disease.

Eyes feel sore, dry and irritated, and may water and look red.

A sore, irritated, uncomfortable dry eye. (Shutterstock)

There are many causes of dry eye disease, including issues relating to eye and systemic health conditions, age, gender or medications. Excessive use of digital devices, poor indoor air quality and pollution all result in symptoms. Situations that increase how quickly the tear film evaporates, such as air-conditioned offices or automobile air-blowers, can quickly and significantly dry the eye’s surface, leading to more pronounced symptoms.

Masks, airflow and evaporation

 

Face masks significantly reduce the spread of air outwards from the mouth and nose. However, exhaled air still needs to disperse; when a mask sits loosely against the face the likely route is upwards. This forces a stream of air over the surface of the eye, creating conditions that accelerate the evaporation of the tear film, like a steady breeze blowing over damp skin.

People who wear glasses are well aware of this, shown by the annoying lens fogging that often occurs when breathing under a mask.

Annoying, fogged-up spectacles due to a poor fitting mask. (Chau-Minh Phan/CORE, University of Waterloo), Author provided

When masks are worn for extended periods, this repeated evaporation may lead to dry spots on the ocular surface.

Similar effects have been reported with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks that are used to treat sleep apnea. Eye dryness may also result when face masks are taped to seal the top edge, if that interferes with the eyelids’ natural movement, preventing full blinks. Incomplete blinking can cause the tear film to become less stable.

Who may be affected?

In addition to those with pre-existing dry eye disease, the general mask-wearing population may find themselves wondering why their eyes are inexplicably irritated. This includes the elderly, who naturally have less efficient tears.

An extensive review demonstrated that wearing contact lenses does not raise the risk of contracting COVID-19, as long as people follow good hygiene and cleaning measures. However, a contact lens can disturb the tear film, potentially making wearers more MADE-susceptible if exhaled air further impacts tear film stability.

Prolonged use of face masks in air-conditioned locations may also trigger MADE. So too could increased digital device use while wearing masks — a rising trend during the pandemic.

Beyond discomfort, MADE presents another risk: it may encourage people to rub their face and eyes for temporary relief. Coronavirus transmission is possible via the mouth and nose, and, to a lesser extent, potentially the eyes. Bringing unwashed hands near the face may increase the likelihood of infection. That is an additional reason to tackle MADE.

Alleviating MADE
Several simple measures can help reduce the drying effects of upward air flow from masks.

Mask Associated Dry Eye (MADE): Why does it happen and what can you do? (Karen Walsh, CORE, University of Waterloo), Author provided

As with any new eye-related concern, first check with an eye care practitioner for advice and to rule out other causes.

Second, ensure that a mask is worn appropriately, particularly when wearing spectacles and sunglasses. A close-fitted mask, or carefully taped top edge that does not interfere with blinking, may help direct air flow downwards. This helps prevent lenses from steaming and reduces MADE.

Clear spectacles with a well fitting mask. (Chau-Minh Phan/CORE, University of Waterloo), Author provided

Lubricating drops may help with comfort. Eye care practitioners can recommend the best type, based on medical history and circumstances.

Limit time in air-conditioned or windy environments when wearing masks, and take regular breaks from digital devices.

Don’t ditch the mask

Is wearing a mask worth it, when you may have to possibly contend with MADE? Absolutely! Masks are here for the foreseeable future. Along with social distancing and hygiene measures, they represent a crucial part of our defence against the spread of COVID-19.

The good news is that we understand why MADE occurs and can address it. Remaining alert and following a few simple steps can help increase eye comfort and promote good mask wear, and with it, we move further along in overcoming the global pandemic.

Source:

conversation.com

Author
Lyndon Jones
Professor, School of Optometry & Vision Science, University of Waterloo


Covid19 safety measures in practice update

As the COVID 19 regulations have now eased, we are able to offer routine examinations in addition to examinations for those who may have specific concerns about their vision.

Please contact the practice on 020 7222 0066 or email info@uniaopticians.co.uk to book an appointment.

We are currently available on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 9:30 am to 4.30pm, but please check our website & contact us as these are due to change to allow for more appointments.

We are operating a closed door system, so we can control the number of customers in the practice at any time. All staff are wearing full PPE, and we would request all customers entering the practice to wear a face covering. (This can be provided if patients do not already have one) There are hand sanitiser stations both at the door and throughout the store.

We are able to dispense spectacle frames from our complete range, for prescriptions to be made up, and are sanitising any frames that are tried on after each customer. All equipment & surfaces are also sanitised after each customer visit.

In order to limit face to face contact we are able to carry out OCT scanning & retinal imaging. This enables us to have a fully detailed view of the retina and to detect the potential for many ocular diseases.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

The Unia Team.

 


Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

 

The Mental Health Foundation is part of the national mental health response during the coronavirus outbreak. Government advice designed to keep us safe is under constant review and will be different depending on where you live: more details and up to date information here.
Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current coronavirus (COVID-19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during such times.

Here are some tips we hope will help you, your friends and your family to look after your mental health at a time when there is much discussion of potential threats to our physical health.

Looking after your mental health as lockdown eases

Across the nations of the UK, lockdown is easing in different ways and at different times. As we begin to come out of lockdown many of us are faced with both challenges and opportunities.

Within social distancing guidelines, we may be able to see friends and family in person, play sport or return to work.

However, many of us may find even these longed-for changes difficult for our mental health. The idea of coming out of lockdown when the scientific debate is ongoing may also be worrying for those of us who are more at risk from the virus or living with mental health problems.

If this is something you are struggling with, read our tips on dealing with fear and anxiety as lockdown eases and coping with uncertainty.

People who are shielding – asked to still stay at home

For people who are shielding not much has changed. Lockdown still applies, with some ability to increase exercise, and to get outside with social distancing. For these groups in particular it might be difficult to see their lives returning to anything like ‘normal’ for a much longer time. As other people come out of lockdown the impact of lockdown on those who are shielding may become even greater.

As different at risk and shielding groups are told they are able to resume activities, people will need to make assessments of how safe things feel for them, and how they balance the risk to their wellbeing of remaining locked down against the risk of getting the virus if they resume activities.

Looking after your mental health while you have to stay at home

More of us will be spending a lot of time at home and many of our regular social activities will no longer be available to us.

It will help to try and see it as a different period in your life, and not necessarily a bad one, even if you didn’t choose it.

It will mean a different rhythm of life, a chance to be in touch with others in different ways than usual. Be in touch with other people regularly on social media, e-mail or on the phone, as they are still good ways of being close to the people who matter to you.

Create a new daily routine that prioritises looking after yourself. You could try reading more or watching movies, having an exercise routine, trying new relaxation techniques, or finding new knowledge on the internet. Try and rest and view this as a new if unusual experience, that might have its benefits.

Make sure your wider health needs are being looked after such as having enough prescription medicines available to you.

Try to avoid speculation and look up reputable sources on the outbreak

Rumour and speculation can fuel anxiety. Having access to good quality information about the virus can help you feel more in control.

Follow hygiene advice such as washing your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds with soap and hot water (sing ‘happy birthday’ to yourself twice to make sure you do this for 20 seconds). You should do this whenever you get home or into work, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food. If you can’t wash your hands straightaway, use hand sanitiser and then wash them at the next opportunity.

You should also use tissues if you sneeze and make sure you dispose of them quickly; and stay at home if you are feeling unwell.

Try to stay connected

The way we are able to connect to others is changing, but this is happening at a different pace depending on who you are and where you live. Advice is significantly different if you are shielding, and you still need to take extra care if you have a long-term physical health condition, are pregnant or aged over 70.

There is a summary of how you can connect here

At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family, by telephone, email or social media, or contact a helpline for emotional support.

You may like to focus on the things you can do if you feel able to:

  • stress management
  • keep active
  • eat a balanced diet

Stay in touch with friends on social media but try not to sensationalise things. If you are sharing content, use this from trusted sources, and remember that your friends might be worried too.

Also remember to regularly assess your social media activity. Tune in with yourself and ask if they need to be adjusted. Are there particular accounts or people that are increasing your worry or anxiety? Consider muting or unfollowing accounts or hashtags that cause you to feel anxious.

Talk to your children

Involving our family and children in our plans for good health is essential. We need be alert to and ask children what they have heard about the outbreak and support them, without causing them alarm.

We need to minimise the negative impact it has on our children and explain the facts to them. Discuss the news with them but try and avoid over-exposure to coverage of the virus. Be as truthful as possible.

Let’s not avoid the ‘scary topic’ but engage in a way that is appropriate for them. We have more advice on talking with your children about the coronavirus outbreak.

Try to anticipate distress

It is OK to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we read news about the outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past, or if you are shielding, have a long-term physical health condition or fall into one of the other groups that makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus.

It’s important to acknowledge these feelings and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health. We should also be aware of and avoid increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term, like smoking, drinking and overeating.

Try and reassure people you know who may be worried and check in with people who you know are living alone.

Try not to make assumptions

Don’t judge people and avoid jumping to conclusions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The coronavirus can affect anyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity or sex.

Try to manage how you follow the outbreak in the media

There is extensive news coverage about the outbreak. If you find that the news is causing you huge stress, it’s important to find a balance.

It’s best that you don’t avoid all news and that you keep informing and educating yourself, but limit your news intake if it is bothering you.

Source:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak


Covid19 safety measures in practice

As guidelines continually change, we are now open for emergency and essential eyecare.
This means that if you have any concerns about your vision or you are feeling anxious about your
eyes, we are now able to see you, on an appointment only basis.

This also includes circumstances where you would like to update your prescription where a change
has occurred, if you require a spare pair of glasses, repairs, wish to purchase sunglasses or where
your contact lens supply is due.

However, it is still necessary for you to call or email the practice first so that we can best manage
appointments to minimize face to face contact.

Where a prescription is out of date, in the absence of any problems, a telephone consultation/video
call can be arranged to verify that all is well before the glasses are dispensed.
All routine eye examinations remain suspended in the UK.

In order to maintain social distancing within the practice, we are operating a closed-door policy.
We would like to reassure you that we are following strict hygiene and sanitizing practices within the
consulting room and throughout the store so that everyone remains safe and all staff will be wearing
the necessary PPE.

Currently, the frames may not be directly accessible to touch on the shelves, however they can still
be viewed and tried on, as many as desired. All frames that have been handled, will be thoroughly
sanitized to ensure safety for successive patients. Wherever possible, when ready, spectacles will be
posted to patent’s homes to avoid unnecessary travel/risk.

Contact lens patients will be able to reorder a routine supply of contact lenses and in most cases,
these can be delivered directly to homes. Where a contact lens after care is due, in the absence
of any problems, a telephone/video call can be arranged to verify that all is well before the lenses
are ordered. Patients will then be asked to return for a full after care appointment once guidelines
change/as necessary.

Contact lens solutions, eye drops, supplements and other accessories will still be available.
Again, these can be posted out to patient homes to prevent unnecessary travel to the practice.
If you are feeling unwell or have been in contact with someone with Covid 19 we advise you not
to attend the practice until it is safe to do so. If any patient is unsure of their symptoms, they are
advised to call NHS 111 for advice.

We look forward to welcoming you back soon, albeit to a new ‘normal’

Best wishes

The Unia Team

 


Practice reopening 1st of June

We are pleased to inform you that we will be reopening the practice on the 1st of June 2020, by appointment only. For the foreseeable future, we will be operating a closed door policy to maintain social distancing. This is in line with current government and regulatory guidelines which we continue to monitor closely.

Our temporary opening hours will be Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 10am to 3.30pm. Please call or email in advance before attending.

As we prepare to reopen, the health and well-being of our patients and staff remains our priority. Strict hygiene measures, social distancing and use of appropriate PPE will continue to be in place to ensure everyone’s safety.

If you have any queries, please email us at info@uniaopticians.co.uk. Please check our ‘News’ page for full details and further updates.

As always, we remain committed to providing our patients with excellent customer care and service and look forward to welcoming you back very soon.