Caring for your eyes and ears amidst COVID-19

We’re all being advised to regularly wash our hands and keep hygiene levels high, as well as avoiding touching our face as much as possible which at times can be difficult, particularly if you wear glasses, contact lenses or hearing aids. 

There is currently no evidence that contact lenses should be avoided by individuals, it’s just important that extra care is taken when applying them. This includes always washing and drying your hands thoroughly before handling, fitting and removing lenses - even if the lens is new. Governing bodies are urging people to wash their hands before touching their eyes and face in any way, therefore it is best practice to follow this procedure when wearing glasses and fitting hearing aids too.

It’s also good practice to clean your glasses regularly with a glasses cleaning solution, ensuring you clean every part, including the frames and nose pads. We’d also recommend regularly washing your glasses cleaner cloth by putting it in the washing machine and monitoring the hygiene of your glasses case. 

Your Eye Health and Coronavirus

Did you know that, on average, we touch our faces over 20 times an hour? It’s only natural that glasses and contact lens wearers have to touch their faces even more frequently. With this in mind, our clinical team at Bayfields opticians have put together some information that we hope you find useful.
 

Eye Health

Are there any ocular symptoms with the Coronavirus?
A pink eye, or Conjunctivitis, is believed to occur in about 1-3% of people infected with the Coronavirus. The chances are that you are likely to experience other symptoms such as a cough or fever rather than pink eyes.

Contact Lenses

Should I avoid wearing contact lenses?
It is important that you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds followed by drying them with unused paper towels before applying or removing your contact lenses.  Despite some of the reports that you may have heard recently, so long as you clean your hands and contact lenses (if reusable) as instructed, contact lens wear is safe.

Is an antibacterial hand sanitiser better than soap?
The World Health Organisation are advising people to wash their hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you blow your nose or cough, we strongly recommend that you wash your hands thoroughly and dry them, again, with an unused paper towel.
 
Although hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol content is also effective, the problem with this type of hand sanitiser is that the alcohol could pass from your hands to your eyes and cause discomfort. Soap and water is definitely the best option in this case.
 
If I normally wear monthly lenses, should I switch to dailies so I’m not handling my lenses as much?
The risk of developing a contact lens related infection when wearing reusable contact lenses as opposed to daily disposable contact lenses are higher. This is normally because hands have not been washed properly and/or contact lens replacement frequency or cleaning regimens have not been followed properly. Please follow the instructions that you received from us or refer to instructions from the contact lens manufacturer or on your contact lens solution bottle.

How often should I replace my contact lens case?
Advice has not changed – we recommend that you replace your contact lens case on a monthly basis. Once you have applied your contact lenses, you should empty your contact lens case, rinse it with some fresh contact lens solution and leave it upside down on a clean surface to air dry.
 
Is it safer to wear surgical gloves when handling contact lenses?
It’s rather difficult to handle contact lenses with gloves on and there is no need to do so, so long as you’re washing your hands before coming into contact with contact lenses.
 
Can I continue using comfort drops?
If you stop using your comfort drops, your eyes may become more uncomfortable and you may be more prone to touching your face. So long as you are washing your hands thoroughly before applying the drops, it is perfectly safe to continue using them.

Glasses


Is a normal glasses cleaning solution effective against viruses?
We recommend that you clean your glasses regularly with a glasses cleaning solution that contains a detergent. We recommend ZEISS wipes. Don’t forget to clean all over the glasses, including nose pads and sides. Just like washing your hands, don’t forget to dry your glasses with a clean glasses cloth.
 
If you take your glasses off and put them down, remember to clean your glasses before putting them back on, no matter what surface they’ve been on. As your hands will likely touch your face when putting your glasses on and off, remember to wash your hands.
Can I use a hand sanitiser on my glasses?
The antibacterial properties of a hand sanitiser can get rid of harmful surface particles. However, the ingredients can damage the surface of the lenses, as well as causing streaks and smears. We therefore advise against using hand sanitisers near lenses. There is also a risk that the alcohol in the sanitiser could enter the eye and cause irritation.To help avoid these issues, we advise that you use a normal glasses cleaning solution.
 
If I run out of glasses cleaning solution, what can I use?
It is safe to wash your glasses in warm, soapy water, ideally using PH neutral washing up liquid. After cleaning, rinse your glasses under running water and then dry with a clean glasses cloth to avoid streaks on your glasses.
 
Should I clean my glasses case?
Yes – clean with soap and water and leave it to air dry.
 
How do I keep my glasses cloth clean?
The easiest way to do this is on a 60 degree wash cycle with your laundry. We recommend this should be done on a weekly basis. With regular use, the cloth will become less effective and will need replacing.

Hearing Aids


How should I be looking after my hearing aid to make sure it’s clean?
 
Our first advice would be to make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before you handle your hearing aid in any way. When washing your hands, the World Health Organisation are advising people to use soap and water for at least 20 seconds and then dry them with an unused paper towel. Hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol content is also effective but soap and water is the best option if you have this available to you.
 
Once you have washed your hands, we would then advise that you clean you hearing aid both before you insert it into your ear and when you take it out. You can do this with an appropriate cleaning solution, which would normally be either a hearing aid cleaning spray or a hearing aid cleaning wipe– medi-wipe swabs are also suitable. We recommend the Cedis hearing aid cleaning spray which is available from our practices.
 
What can I clean it with if I do not have a spray or wipes?
 
We would recommend using a clean, dry tissue to wipe over the hearing aid and then dispose of the tissue in the bin - only ever use the tissue once.
 
Can I clean my hearing aid with warm water?
 
If it’s an in the ear type hearing aid or receiver in the canal type system, we wouldn’t advise using water because this could penetrate into the aid itself and cause damage. Instead, we’d recommend that you just use a clean dry tissue to wipe over the aid. The only time water would be suitable is if it’s a behind the ear type system with a mould that can be removed from the hearing aid – in this case the mould, once removed from the hearing aid, could be cleaned with mild warm water and then left to air dry.
 
Can I use a general anti-bacterial spray or wipe?
 
Our advice would be unless it’s a specific wipe for cleaning hearing aids then don’t use it. The reason for this is that the skin in the ear-canal is very sensitive and using a non-specific wipe or spray could cause some irritation.
 
What can I do if my hearing aid does not appear to be working correctly and I am currently self-isolating?
 
Firstly, give the hearing aid a thorough clean as previously described, then, if you have a small cleaning brush, wipe over the receiver port and microphone port of the hearing aid. Following this, replace the battery with a fresh new one and also replace the wax filter - if it’s a receiver in the canal aid then the dome as well.
For our recommended care guidance sheet – click here.
 
If this does not sort the issue, then contact your hearing care provider for further help.