Yeshwant Saoji, Consultant Optometrist and Contact lens practitioner at Saoji Vision Care at Dharampeth, Nagpur speaks about various ways to disinfect spectacles, lenses during COVID-19 pandemic.
Disinfecting your spectacles
Let us understand how to disinfect spectacles and contact lenses to be safe from the novel Coronavirus.
Most often polymer lenses are used in spectacles and frame is plastic, metal or a combination of these. These materials are hard surfaces and non-absorbent. Hence the corona virus can survive on them for a long duration.
Washing the spectacles with soap and water giving a nice scrub for at least 20 seconds is the safest. In fact it will make the spectacles last longer by resisting scratches. Wash the nose pads, sides and both sides of lenses also.
Rinse under running tap water, pat dry using a tissue and then give it a final wipe with the microfibre cloth, which the optician would have given.
Other cleaning liquids could be 0.5% Hydrogen peroxide for the frame, lizol wipes if they are available. Long-term results of cleaning with these are not known but should be safe. Avoid the use of sanitisers.
UVC chambers may be good to disinfect, though there is still some confusion regarding the effectiveness of the same.
A word of caution: Ultrasonic cleaners do NOT disinfect the spectacles. Few videos show these ultrasonic cleaners as disinfecting chambers!
Buying new spectacles
New spectacles can be purchased provided the clinic/store follows the recommended disinfection guidelines. It is best to avoid wearing too many frames for selection as many people would have worn them earlier.
As of now the research, world over, indicates that contact lens wear during this corona pandemic is very safe, as long as the wearer is healthy.
The wearer needs to follow the same protocol about washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, wiping them dry with a clean lint free napkin, cleaning, disinfecting the lenses using recommended solutions but even more religiously. Hands have to be washed with soap and water even after using sanitiser!
The contact lens packs and solution bottle should be disinfected using a sanitiser and if the blister is exposed to possible contamination that needs to be cleaned as well. Avoid touching the tip of the solution bottle either with fingers or with the sanitiser. Store them in sterile environment so that this step need not be repeated.
Contact lens case is the weakest link in the safe contact lens wear routine. The case should be washed with mild soap and water. Scrubbing should be done using a baby toothbrush. This is very important step. Rinse it with clean water and wipe it dry using a clean lint free napkin and air-dry case upside down on a clean tissue. Replace lens case every month. Fortunately most contact lens solutions come with a complimentary case.
If the lens wearer has any symptoms of cold or cough, discontinue lenses till 24 hrs. After feeling better again. Present pair should be discarded and lens wear should be resumed using a sealed fresh pair.
Depending on the type of contact lenses the recommended solutions may vary, so it is best to check with an Optometrist. Never use sanitiser on lenses or contact lens cases.
Stay safe and take care!