For those who wear eyeglasses, COVID-19 has posed some extra challenges. For starters, wearing a cloth mask quickly fogs up your glasses. (Here’s how you can prevent the fog!) But on top of that, your glasses — along with your cellphone, keys and doorknobs — are among those “high-touch” items you need to remember to disinfect regularly.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person and through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, it’s possible you can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching your own mouth, nose or, possibly, your eyes, according to the CDC.
In addition, studies have emerged that show how the coronavirus can survive on surfaces for not just hours, but days. According to a study in the Journal of Hospital Infection, the virus can live on glass surfaces for up to 96 hours, or four days. And according to the Cleveland Clinic, COVID-19 can live even longer on glass (for about five days) and for three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Though it’s worth noting that the amount of live virus on a surface decreases over time, lessening your risk of infection.
Since eyeglasses, sunglasses and blue light-blocking glasses are made of mostly glass, metal and plastic, we asked experts for their best tips to disinfect your eyeglasses.
Begin by cleaning your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, says Ashley Katsikos, O.D., at Golden Gate Eye Associates within the Pacific Vision Eye Institute. From there, use lukewarm water and gentle dish soap to disinfect your glasses. Massage the soap onto each lens and then rinse and dry with a microfiber cloth. Katsikos says that once your glasses have been disinfected, you can go over them with an approved eyeglass lens cleanser, usually sold at the doctor’s office.
Shannen Knight, an optician and the owner of A Sight for Sport Eyes in West Linn, Oregon, says that you can also use Clorox or disinfectant wipes on the frames of your glasses, but you have to be careful not to use them on the lenses as this could break down coatings.
“Also, having the glasses properly adjusted so they are not sliding down the nose will help limit your impulse to touch the glasses,” says Knight. “Typically, most of the touching comes from people pushing the glasses back up the nose. Having a proper fit, or maybe even wearing a strap to keep them tight, will help eliminate this problem and stop people from touching the glasses.”
Finally, while the CDC doesn’t have specific guidance on cleaning eyeglasses, the agency does generally recommend wearing disposable gloves when cleaning hard, nonporous surfaces and to be mindful of hand washing.
Have you been remembering to wash your eyeglasses during the COVID-19 pandemic?
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