Mind & Body
See Well this Summer (and all year long)
5/1/2020 1:00:00 PM

See Well

May is National Healthy Vision Month, and the good health of your eyes is, literally, in your hands. Well-washed hands, that is. That’s the message from Dr. William Hart of Hart Eye Center, who offers guidance for people as coronavirus concerns, allergies and summer weather challenge our eye health.

Wearing Contacts in a COVID-19 World

The virus that causes COVID-19 can enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth. Mucous membranes provide a pathway to infection from touching, sneezing and coughing. As for infection by hand-to-eye contact, "it’s rare, but it’s simply a matter of being smart,” Hart says. That’s especially true for people who wear contact lenses.

Hart recommends this process:

Take your contacts out every night.

Soak them overnight in a solution formulated with hydrogen peroxide — such as Clear Care, widely available in stores.

Wash your hands when you wake up.

Hold your contacts in your palm and treat them with a solution such as Opti-Free, which rinses away the hydrogen peroxide and adds a beneficial film.

Clean Hands are the Key

In this COVID-19 era, our hands are our enemy, says Hart. "They’re touching doorknobs, TV remotes, and surfaces — and then we touch our face. Rub our nose. Rub our eyes.” 

Hart says hand washing is even more important than wearing a mask. Oil on your hands helps absorb the virus. Soap breaks up oil on the skin. It also breaks up the coating on the coronavirus to destroy it. "You should really wash your hands once an hour, basically, if you think about all that a person comes in contact with. And wash for at least 20 seconds with soap. Soap is better than hand sanitizer.”

Attacking Allergies

Allergy season makes it difficult for your eyes and nose. Proper medications reduce the misery to your eyes. In a time of allergies, we unconsciously touch our eyes as well, because they’re itchy. "That itch is because of histamine,” Hart says. "So antihistamine drops, lubricating drops, can help.”

Hart says items such as Refresh gel drops — which coat and lubricate the eye — and Pataday are among the useful over-the-counter treatments.

Gotta Wear Shades

"Wear sunglasses,” Hart recommends. Shades that are certified for ultraviolet (UV) protection — which are the only kind you want to buy — are for good health as well as comfort and style. UV rays can have a negative effect on the lens of the eye that can lead to long-term problems such as cataracts. "You see that with farmers, offshore workers, industrial workers, other people who are outside,” he says. "They need to be careful. There can even be some retina damage, not just cataracts, from lack of protection. People need to protect themselves from the toxic effects of sun rays.” The outer eyelids are the thinnest skin on the human body. Sunglasses can protect them — particularly those of people who have fair skin. The risks can run as far as basal cell carcinoma, a skin cancer.

For more information, visit harteyecenter.com or call 337-439-4014.

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