On 23rd April the journal "Nature Medicine" reported that cells in the eye also have entry ports for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This information is particularly helpful for contact lens wearers.
Dr. Waradon Sungnak, author of the study "SARS-CoV-2 entry factors are highly expressed in nasal epithelial cells together with innate immune genes" says: "The receptor protein - ACE2 - and the TMPRSS2 protease, which can help in the entry of SARS-CoV-2, is expressed in the cells of various organs. Among them are the cells on the inside of the nose. We then showed that of all the cells, the mucus-producing goblet cells and ciliated cells in the nose have the highest concentrations of these two proteins. This makes these cells the most likely primary route of infection for the virus."
The two most important entry proteins ACE2 and TMPRSS2 were also found in cells in the cornea of the eye. This suggests another possible route of infection via the eye and tear ducts.
Try to avoid contact lenses
Contact lens wearers touch their eyes significantly more often than the rest of the population. The insertion and removal of contact lenses can cause irritation, and viruses can be transmitted to the conjunctiva. To keep the risk of infection as low as possible, you should try to avoid contact lenses and wear glasses during this time. Especially people in risk groups should currently avoid wearing lenses. If this is not possible, then you should observe the following hygiene instructions:
1. Preparation before wearing contact lenses
Make sure your hands are clean. During the epidemic, many people use products such as alcohol-based disinfectants or chlorinated disinfectants to clean hands and other materials. When disinfection is complete, dry your hands carefully to ensure that no disinfectant residue remains before you wear contact lenses.
Choose a hygienic environment and sterilize the surface of the contact lens case and the lens care fluid box in advance. Short fingernails are recommended as bacteria under the fingernails can contaminate the lenses and scratch the lenses.
3. Steps for wearing and removing contact lenses
Remove the lens from the lens case, place the convex side of the lens on the tip of your index finger, apply a drop of moisturizing eye fluid to the concave side, then carefully place the lens on the eye. After blinking several times, check that the lens is in the middle of the cornea. Before removing the lenses, put 1-2 drops of moisturizing eye drops into the eyes, blink several times and make sure the lenses slide on the cornea before removing the lenses.