Can you get coronavirus through your eyes? Health experts weigh in

National Coronavirus Coverage

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) – Medical experts are debating whether the coronavirus can enter our bodies through our eyes.

A medical news contributor believes he got coronavirus through his eyes while on an airplane. He says the rest of his face was covered.

“We are gonna start wearing shields. That will cover you from here down. I think shields are gonna be the future,” said Will Ivy, a Cordova resident. “I could be wrong, but like you say, we need to cover everything. So, a shield goes from here down. That could be a little more protection.”

Dr. Jon McCullers, pediatrician-in-chief at Le Bonheur, says the eyes can be an opening for the virus, in a way.

“More likely if you were exposed in a health care setting where you were exposed to a lot of COVID that splashed in your eyes are some of the concerns we would have,” McCullers said. “Or if you were exposed to COVID on your hands and rubbed it into your eyes in some way.”

We have heard the warning to think twice about wearing contact lens during the pandemic to avoid touching your eyes.

“They say a lot of things, feet, toes,” said north Shelby County resident Tom Mattingly. “Then the next week it is something else.”

“I think it’s a little, maybe a little overkill,” said Marian Ivy of Cordova. “I think if we just practice the hand hygiene and the sanitization we should be doing anyway, it think it’s fine.”

Dr. Penny Asbell is the Director of the Hamilton Eye Institute at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Asbell says she doesn’t think there’s a need to cover the eyes because “it’s unlikely the tears are gonna spread from the eyes.”

Mitzi Mattingly is a nurse and knows about eye protection.

“I use the protection at work, yes. We do the shields and the goggles,” Mattingly said. “But I hadn’t really thought about it out in the public.”

“Let’s say somebody has COVID virus, and they have live virus in their saliva and their mouth, if they cough or sneeze on you,” Asbell said. “Could it enter the body through the eye? Possibly. It’s more likely it enters through the nose and the mouth.”

Asbell says face masks may still be your best defense.

Doctors tell us if you get coronavirus, that is a good time to stop using contact lens until you are over the infection.

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