Preventing and Spreading Coronavirus Through Your Eyes

Woman wearing medical mask outdoors

Our eyes are often a gateway to our body including the prevention and spread of COVID-19.
To decrease your risk of getting COVID-19, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. It is the mucous membranes (membranes that line various cavities in the body) that are most susceptible to transmission of the virus.

To avoid unknowingly infecting others with the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that Americans wear cloth face masks when out in public.

Face masks can reduce the spread of coronavirus by people who have no symptoms of the virus. Face masks, however, do not protect your eyes, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House, said.

The relationship between the transmission of the coronavirus and your eyes is complicated.
It’s thought that coronavirus spreads from person to person mainly through airborne “respiratory droplets” produced when someone coughs or sneezes, much like the flu virus spreads, the CDC says. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby, and possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

These droplets also can be spread to your eyes when you touch your face and then your eyes with unwashed hands.

Medical experts are unsure whether someone can contract this virus by touching a surface or object, such as a table or doorknob, that has coronavirus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.

This is why the CDC and World Health Organization recommend diligently washing your hands for 20 seconds or more with warm water and soap.