Coronavirus & Your Eyes: What UPMC Eye Center Ophthalmologists Want You to Know

See 2020 Differently

The Department of Ophthalmology continues to provide services while restricting visitation and postponing non-urgent procedures in order to keep patients and employees safe. We want to provide patients with information about our availability and other concerns relating to your vision during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: Can Coronavirus affect my eyes?

  • Viruses cause infection of the eye such as pink eye or conjunctivitis. The chances of coronavirus causing pink eye are small. If you have pink eye without other symptoms, it most likely was not caused by the coronavirus.
  • Like other viruses, coronavirus can spread through the eyes by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes. This is why it is very important to avoid touching your eyes as much as possible.

Q: Can I use contact lenses?

  • There is no evidence that contact lenses can carry the coronavirus. However, contact lens use involves touching your eyes and face more than once a day. To avoid possible infection, wash your hands before and after handling your contact lenses. If you scratch your eye while putting your contact lenses in or out, it is likely that you will need to see a doctor which you should try to avoid.
  • TIP:  Give your eyes a rest and wear glasses. They add a layer of protection to your eyes in case someone is coughing around you.

Q: Can I see my ophthalmologist if I need to?

  • All ophthalmologists are currently seeing patients only for urgent care or conditions that threaten their vision. Someone from your doctor’s office will call you and schedule another date and time for your routine appointment.
  • Your doctor may want you to come into the office if you have one of the following conditions:
    • Sudden vision loss
    • Macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy requiring laser treatment or eye injections
    • Vision-threatening glaucoma requiring constant treatment
    • Sudden changes in your vision, such as a shadow or dark curtain in your vision
    • New onset eye pain, headache, red eye, nausea and vomiting
  • Please contact us at (412) 647-2200 if you have any questions about your vision.
  • Make sure that you call your doctor’s office and confirm your appointment before you leave your home.

Q: Can I virtually see my ophthalmologist?

  • Our team of ophthalmologists is offering health advice via phone and video.
  • During these online appointments, you can talk to a member of the healthcare team about your eye health issues.
  • The providers can remotely monitor your vision and look at the outside parts of your eyes to determine next steps.

Whether you see an ophthalmologist in person or virtually, make sure you ask for refills for your eye medicines. Most importantly, remember that we are always here for you!

See 2020 Differently

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Kind regards,

José-Alain Sahel, MD
Distinguished Professor and Chairman
Department of Ophthalmology
Eye & Ear Foundation Endowed Chair
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Director, UPMC Eye Center