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FAQ’s: COVID-19 and the Eye

Please note that this information is evolving and changing rapidly. Please check back for updates.

  • Does COVID-19 affect the eye? The SARS-COV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 infection can cause conjunctivitis, which is inflammation and redness of the white of the eye. If you have a red eye, call our office to schedule a telemedicine or physical appointment. If you have red eye, along with fever, cough, shortness of breath, then you are suspicious for COVID-19 at the present time and should contact your primary care doctor or go to the emergency room.
  • Can you catch or spread COVID-19 through the eye? Yes. You should avoid touching your eyes when in public as the virus remains active on surfaces as long as several hours, and you may transfer the virus to the surface of your eye and become infected. If another person infected with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or even talks near you (reportedly less than 6 feet), you can become infected by infected droplets contacting the surface of your eye. You should therefore wear a full-face shield or goggles, in addition to a mask, if you are in close proximity to a known COVID-19 patient. If you are infected with COVID-19, you may infect someone else if they handle a used tissue or touch a surface contaminated by your tears or other eye.
  • Can I see my eye doctor for an examination or surgery during the pandemic? We are continuing to follow our established patients and evaluate new patients by virtual online visits (Telemedicine). If it is determined by our call center, or during your virtual visit, that your eye problem or need for follow-up is urgent, then you will be scheduled for a physical exam in our offices. All governmental and professional agencies have mandated that non-urgent eye exams in the office should be postponed but virtual visits are important. Non-urgent eye surgeries, including most cataract and refractive surgeries must be postponed.
  • Why are nonurgent examinations not being done in the office and nonurgent eye surgeries postponed? Public health experts and government officials have mandated social distancing. Coming into a medical office or surgery center increases risk of exposure to COVID-19. In addition, there are shortages of Personal Protective Equipmemnt (PPE), such as masks and surgical gloves, which should not be utilized for nonurgent exams and procedures.
  • Why is a virtual visit (Telemedicine) helpful for my eye condition? A virtual visit allows a personalized face-to-face meeting with your doctor, while minimizing travel, wait-time, and risk of COVID-19 exposure. This visit can accomplish critical parts of your evaluation, whether you are a new or established patient, including review of your present condition, prior eye and medical history, discussion of diagnoses, treatment plans, and follow-up. Virtual visits are also a great opportunity to ask your doctor questions. Portions of your exam, as dictated by your condition, will require a physical examination in the office at a later date. If your doctor determines that your condition is urgent, you will scheduled to come into the office soon.
  • If I have an urgent eye problem that requires me to come into the office, is it safe to do so? The risk of exposure to COVID-19 or transmitting infection to others must be weighed against the urgency of your eye condition. If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 infection or have symptoms that are suspicious, you should contact your primary care provider or emergency room before leaving your home and coming in to our offices for a physical eye exam. All patients coming to the office during the pandemic are screened for symptoms of COVID-19 infection. The virus is very susceptible to disinfecting processes which are done meticulously in our offices.

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Paso Robles LASIK & Cataract Center

View office details 805-987-5300
104 Gateway Center Suite B
Paso Robles, CA 93446
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Santa Maria LASIK & Cataract Center

View office details 805-987-5300
525 East Plaza Dr. Unit 304
Santa Maria, CA 93454
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San Luis Obispo LASIK & Cataract Surgeon

View office details 805-987-5300
835 Aerovista Park #110
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
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