Since the lining of your upper and lower eyelids is a mucous membrane, the eyes are one of the major entrances for viruses into the body, from which they can travel into the lungs. (The other main entrances are the nose and mouth.) Therefore it is important to protect your eyes from exposure to germs as much as possible. Here are some ways to prevent viruses from invading through your eyes.
If you wear contact lenses
During flu season, it is even more important than it always should be to practice all recommended hygiene procedures for disinfecting, cleaning, handling, and inserting your lenses. This is intended to prevent you from infecting yourself with germs that might be on your fingers.
However, since contact lenses only cover 30-40% of the surface of the eye, they do not provide protection from germs in the air. You can get better protection by switching to glasses during the pandemic and flu season.
If you wear glasses
Your eyes will be protected from incoming germs in front of you better than if you use contact lenses, but they can still get into your eyes from the sides where your glasses do not cover. Glasses provide much better protection than not having anything in front of your eyes, but are not as effective as a wrap-around face shield.
One additional advantage of wearing glasses during flu season is that it may remind you not to unthinkingly touch your eyes, as we often do when not wearing glasses.
If you do not wear glasses
When outdoors, sunglasses provide similar protection to wearing prescription glasses. Some styles of sunglasses are wrap around, providing additional protection to the sides of the eyes.
If you do not need prescription lenses, you can purchase clear (nonprescription), cheap eyeglasses at many pharmacies or online. They will not change your vision, but they will provide some protection for your eyes when you are indoors in environments like stores or your workplace.
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