Did you know your eyes could play an important role in the prevention (and the spread) of the latest coronavirus outbreak threatening the world today?
In late December of 2019, the coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China, and as of writing this post has spread to 119 countries and territories worldwide leading to close to 120,000 confirmed cases and claiming 4000+ lives.
The coronavirus belongs to a group of viruses that only affect animals such as cats, bats, horses, pigs, rats, dogs, camels, and cattle. At times, these animals can transmit the virus to humans, who can then transmit the virus to other humans.
Once infected with the virus, pneumonia-like symptoms appear, such as a runny nose, cough, fatigue, fever and more which can prove to be fatal.
In this post, we'll take a deeper look at how the coronavirus spreads, what it has to do with your eyes and share tips to help you better protect yourself and your family.
Table of Contents
- How Coronavirus Spreads
- The Link Between Coronavirus and Your Eyes
- Is Eye Protection Necessary?
- How Wearing Glasses can Offer Protection
- Hygiene Tips to Prevent Spread and Protect Yourself
- Immune-Boosting Tips to Prevent Attack and Fight Back
- Eliminate Toxins
- Consume Immune-Boosting Supplements
- Do Moderate Exercise
- Get Adequate Sleep
- Reduce Stress and Anxiety
- Key Takeaways
How Coronavirus Spreads
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the new coronavirus or COVID-19 is transmitted from person-to-person who are in close contact (within 6-feet from each other) through airborne "respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes."
These droplets can then be inhaled through the mouth or the nose and enter the lungs and infect the body.
It may also be possible to get the virus by touching a contaminated surface (such as a desk or doorknob) that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes, however, there is still debate on the virus spreading from contact with contaminated objects and or surfaces.
The Link Between Coronavirus and Your Eyes
How is coronavirus linked to your eyes?
The American Academy of Opthalmology (AAO), released an important update for ophthalmologists (eye doctors), suggesting that the coronavirus "can cause conjunctivitis and possibly be transmitted by aerosol contact with conjunctiva."
The AAO along with federal officials is advising eye doctors to protect their "mouth, nose and eyes" when caring for patients who might potentially be infected and have conjunctivitis along with fever and respiratory symptoms such as a cold and cough, or have recently traveled internationally.
Also, as per the South China Morning Post, respiratory specialist, Dr. Wang Guangfa, at Peking University suspects he contracted the virus from patients after he suffered an inflammation in his left eye that led to fever and mucus build up in his respiratory tract. He believes, "lack of eye protection may have been the cause."
Other experts, such as chief of infectious diseases, Dr. Stephen Thomas, from New York's SUNY Upstate Medical University stated that hand-to-eye transmission is “plausible but unlikely,” meaning it could possibly happen.
Is Eye Protection Necessary?
After actress Kate Hudson shared a photo of herself on Instagram for wearing a mask while traveling, she received criticism from followers, with Instagram users telling her that, “those masks do nothing,” and that her “exposed” eyes could actually leave her more vulnerable to infection.
And, that does seem to be true.
According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the virus enters your body "via your eyes, nose and/or mouth," and that "the use of face masks may even increase the risk of infection due to a false sense of security and increased contact between hands, mouth and eyes."
This was further supported by an earlier statement by the AOA, which suggested that:
"COVID-19 may cause ocular signs and symptoms, including photophobia, irritation, conjunctival injection and ocular discharge. As of Feb. 10, new information is emerging that identifies the conjunctiva as an alleged route of exposure; COVID-19 may enter the body through the eyes and spread to the whole body through the superficial blood vessels within the conjunctiva. All front-line medical staff should pay attention to eye protection."
How Wearing Glasses can Offer Protection
A recent article in the New York Post suggested that "glasses may help you survive the coronavirus."
It stated that although face masks don't really work, "glasses may actually be an effective barrier between your body and the deadly virus."
This is because experts believe that coronavirus can "spread through the eyes" and that your every day glasses and sunglasses can actually act as a "protective shield."
Epidemiology professor, Robyn Gershon, at New York University’s School of Global Public Health states that with glasses, “large splatters or droplets cannot go directly in my eye.”
She also suggests that now may be a good time to ditch your contact lenses and opt for a pair of eyeglasses instead.
Also, glasses are a good idea because they might actually form a barrier and prevent you from touching your eyes in the first place.
Hygiene Tips to Prevent Spread and Protect Yourself
Following basic hygiene practices is not just important to protect and prevent the spread of the coronavirus but many other viral and bacterial infections.
In fact, if you just look at eye conditions alone, most common eye ailments caused by viral, fungal and bacterial infections such as pink eye and styes, can easily be avoided by maintaining proper hygiene.
And we're not talking small numbers here. Close to 3 to 6 million people get pink eye (conjunctivitis) each year in the USA. And, although conjunctivitis is highly contagious, it is preventable by practicing frequent hand washing, avoiding touching the face, and sharing towels, pillows and eye makeup.
And, these are the same precautions you need to take for most easily spread viral and bacterial infections, including coronavirus.
Below, we'll share the most common hygiene tips to protect from coronavirus and help to prevent its spread.
Hand Washing 101
We already know that frequent hand washing is essential to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and The New York Times has actually gone on to say that, "in an age of robotic surgery and gene therapy, it is all the more wondrous that a bit of soap in water, an ancient and fundamentally unaltered recipe, remains one of our most valuable medical interventions."
Follow the steps below to wash your hands properly:
- Wet your hands with running water (warm or cold does not matter as long as the water is clean)
- Apply soap, and lather your hands by rubbing them together
- Make sure to lather on the back of the hands, in between fingers and underneath the nails
- Scrub your hands for at least 20-30 seconds
- Turn on the tap again and rinse well
- Air dry your hands or wipe clean using a fresh towel
Here's an infographic from the World Health Organization (WHO) on proper hand washing technique:
When to wash your hands is equally important to make sure you curb the spread of germs:
- After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
- After being in contact with a person who has pink eye
- Before touching or rubbing your eyes
- Prior to and after preparing a meal
- Before and after eating
- Before and after taking care of someone who is unwell
- After using the bathroom or cleaning up a child who has used the loo
- After using public transportation or being in a crowded area
- After shaking someone's hand (although this should be avoided)
- After touching an animal or cleaning animal waste
- After taking out the garbage
If for some reason soap and water are unavailable, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol content, but they are not as effective for removing microorganisms and germs from the skin as soap and water are.
Stop Touching Your Face
Research shows that we unconsciously touch our face which includes our nose, mouth and even our eyes close to "23 times per hour." This puts us at great risk of introducing unwanted germs into our bodies.
The key is to be conscious and really try not to touch your face, no matter how tempted you might be. And if you're a nail biter, there's no better time to stop then now.
If you must touch your face, such as blow your nose or remove that pesky eyelash from your eye, make sure to wash your hands before and after any face touching.
Additional Protective Measures
Here are some other key common-sense tips you should follow to protect and decrease the spread of a potential coronavirus infection:
- Refrain from close contact with anyone who has a cough, cold or any other respiratory condition
- If a family member comes down with a cough or cold try to keep a distance of at least one meter from them and do not share utensils, or personal items such as towels, combs, etc.
- If you or someone you know has pink eye do not share items such as towels, pillows and eye makeup
- Make sure to cover your mouth with a handy tissue whenever you cough or sneeze, and immediately wash your hands after
- Use a safe disinfectant to clean surfaces that are frequently used such as doorknobs
- Try not to venture out if you are sick or feel you're coming down with a fever or cold
- If you have symptoms that progress to a fever coupled with a cough and shortness of breath, seek medical attention
Immune-Boosting Tips to Prevent Attack and Fight Back
Although the main focus to prevent the spread of coronavirus is to focus on hygiene, it's also important to consider how we can build our immunity so that if we do get exposed, our body can fight back effectively.
Unfortunately, in today's day and age, our immune system is excessively worn down by stress, unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity, poor sleep hygiene, and exposure to toxins from food additives, pollution, pesticides and more. Most people are also lacking in a therapeutic amount of essential antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.
With coronavirus spreading, it is incredibly important to take the necessary steps to support the immune system.
Here are some key things you should be doing:
Toxins can be incredibly damaging for the immune system, and research suggests that "certain heavy metals have been reported to seriously affect the immune system." It's imperative to minimize exposure to heavy metals and other toxins by limiting exposure to pesticides (eat organic foods), air pollution, processed foods, GMO foods and more. You can also take detoxifying supplements such as chlorella and spirulina to help flush out toxins naturally from your body, boosting immunity and providing many other health benefits.
Consume Immune-Boosting Supplements
Although you should eat a healthy, antioxidant-rich diet, there is only so much you can eat to get the required dosage of nutrients needed to help you on a therapeutic level. It's highly recommended to complement a healthy diet with nutritional supplements to get the immune-boosting benefits you desire. Here are some supplements we recommend that not only help to boost immunity but also reduce inflammation, improve your vision, and promote overall health.
Black Currant Oil
Black currant oil is abundant with vitamin C which makes it an excellent anti-viral. It's also rich in anthocyanins and antioxidants which help to build immunity and alleviate cold and flu symptoms. Supplementing with black currant seed oil can assist the body to deal with infections making it an effective antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral.
A landmark study showed that astaxanthin has the ability to stimulate the immune system by increasing the count of antibody-producing cells and fighting cytotoxic cell activity. Astaxanthin supplements could be an excellent option for anyone wanting to boost their immunity naturally, as well as boost energy, and control the progression of degenerative eye conditions.
According to the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, "spirulina increases production of antibodies, infection-fighting proteins, and other cells that improve immunity and help ward off infection and chronic illnesses, such as cancer." Spirulina supplements are also one of the few plant-based foods that contain a high concentration of Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) or Omega-6 fatty acids essential to fighting inflammation and boosting immunity.
Do Moderate Exercise
Apart from eating healthy and taking immune-boosting supplements, incorporating any form of moderate physical activity is important to boost immunity. However, it's important not to overdo it, as too much exercise can actually put more stress on the body, but moderate amounts have shown to decrease the risk of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) through "favorable changes in immune function."
Get Adequate Sleep
Research shows that sleep exerts "a strong regulatory influence on immune functions." It's critical to make sure you get a good night's sleep and maintain a sleep routine (sleep and wake at the same time) every day, even on the weekends. Also, make sure to reduce caffeine during the day to feel tired enough when you hit the pillow at night.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Reducing stress is essential not just for building your immunity but a host of other health problems. Getting stressed and anxious can release chemicals and hormones such as adrenaline into the bloodstream which can weaken immune function and leave you more vulnerable to viral infections.
- It's important to understand that your eyes could play an important role in the prevention (and the spread) of the latest coronavirus.
- Coronavirus can cause conjunctivitis, so you should be especially vigilant when someone comes down with a pink eye
- Wearing glasses or sunglasses may provide an effective barrier between your body and the virus
- Make sure to wash and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, especially before touching your face (nose, mouth, and eyes)
- Detoxify, exercise, reduce stress, sleep well and complement your diet with immune-boosting supplements to build your resistance.