Professor Lyndon Jones, Director of the Centre for Ocular Research & Education, talks about eye safety and COVID-19. To learn more visit:

Can people still wear contacts right now?

Yes – there is no scientific evidence that people who wear contact lenses are more at risk of developing COVID-19 than glasses wearers. What’s essential is that people properly wash and dry their hands before touching their faces, regardless of whether they are contact lens wearers, glasses wearers or require no vision correction at all. There is no scientific evidence to demonstrate that regular glasses provide protection from the virus. However, it is important people regularly wash and dry their glasses, as the virus that causes COVID-19 can live on the plastic they are made out of.

Why is it important to stop temporarily wearing contact lenses if you are sick? Must a person stop wearing contact lenses regardless of the disease they have?

This is standard advice given to all contact lens wearers and has not changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking this step limits the chances of developing any inflammatory response (a sore, red eye) that can occur secondary to a viral infection, particularly those of the upper respiratory tract; the nose and throat are linked via a drainage pathway to the surface of the eye. Glasses wear is recommended until the illness has passed, resuming contact lens wear with fresh lenses, and a fresh contact lens case - having checked in with their eye care practitioner that it is safe to do so. If in doubt – always reach out to your eye care practitioner.

What is the best way to clean glasses? How often do you have to do it? Why is it advisable to use soap and water?

Glasses wearers are used to cleaning the lenses of their glasses to see clearly. The advice related to COVID-19 is to add in a further cleaning step. Recommendations are to wash the whole frame regularly in soap and water. This is because the virus that causes COVID-19 can stay on hard plastics – such as those found in glasses frames - for a period of time. Soap and water are advised in line with recommendations for hand hygiene because soap is known to kill the virus.

The University of Waterloo has a number of experts available for comment on various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic, click here to see the up-to-date list.

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