Taking care of your visual health
Care for your visual health
COVID-19 can enter our body through the conjunctiva of the eyes. So we can be infected by touching our eyes after touching contaminated objects; microparticles released by sneezing or coughing can also contaminate us through our eyes.
When we are out and about away from our homes, we need to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres from other people, and we should not touch our eyes. If we ever need to touch them, it should be after thoroughly washing our hands.
If we have any symptom or sign of conjunctivitis, we should speak to our doctor.
During this period, we are likely to make more use of screens and mobile devices so it is important to follow these tips:
- Hydrate the eyes with artificial tears. As we look closely at something for long, we reduce our blinking rate, causing dry eyes. To avoid this, we should use artificial tears three or four times a day or when we experience any discomfort.
- Follow the 20/20/20 rule. Whenever we are looking at a screen, we have to: take breaks of 20 seconds, every 20 minutes, looking away at a distance of 20 feet (6 metres). By following this rule we can relax our vision and ensure this type of activity is kept to a comfortable level.
- When using a screen, find a comfortable sitting position. In the sitting posture our backs should be straight; we should not lie down, nor have one’s head turned towards the screen.
- Maintain a minimum distance from the screen of: 30 to 35 cm for mobile phones; 40 to 50 cm for tablets; 50 to 80 cm for computer screens depending on their size: 50 cm for portable and 60 to 80 cm for desktop; and more than 300 cm for the TV.
- Do not watch the screen in the dark. Always keep the room illuminated, avoiding reflections on the screen and, if possible, using natural light.
- Films, multi-episode programmes or series and multimedia content are always better watched on TV. The further away the screen is, the less fatigue our vision will experience. This is much more important in children; excessive screen watching at close range can be a factor in the development of myopia at an early age.
- Indeed, create activities and games for children that involve them having to look at things in the distance. While it is difficult at the moment to spend time outdoors, such activities are important for the healthy development of their eyesight. We can play at looking at things in the distance through a window, on a terrace or balcony; if you have a space of five metres or more, carry out some exercises that encourage children to use long-distance vision.
If you wear glasses
Just as we have recommended that we do not touch our eyes when we are out and about away from home, we should avoid touching our glasses too. Many of us will not be aware that we touch our glasses more than four or five times an hour. If we do touch them with a hand contaminated perhaps by droplets left from coughing or sneezing, we will contaminate our glasses too.
COVID-19 can survive on glasses for hours and, on some materials, for days. For this reason, after washing our hands when we return home, we should also wash our glasses. We can wash them with the same soap that we use to wash our hands, rubbing them gently with our fingers and drying them with a soft tissue.
If you wear contact lenses
Never touch contact lenses if you have not washed your hands thoroughly.
Likewise, we should not touch cases or bottles of cleaning fluid without having washed our hands beforehand. If the case or bottle is contaminated, washing our hands before touching the lenses will be of no use.
At any sign or symptom of eye irritation we should stop using contact lenses and, if possible, throw them away along with the case and liquid. If they are not disposable contact lenses, we should not use them until they have been chemically sterilised.
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