Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unclean hands—before putting on or removing your eyeglasses, always wash your hands.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe COVID-19 spreads mainly through person-to-person contact, they maintain that exposure might also be possible through contact with a contaminated surface.
Because COVID-19 can survive on certain hard surfaces for as many as several days, touching a contaminated surface and then touching your face potentially exposes you to the virus. People who wear reading glasses may be more vulnerable to exposure from simply putting on and removing their readers frequently over the course of a day. But any eyeglasses or sunglasses wearer should make every effort to thoroughly clean their eyewear during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below are tips to keep your eyewear clean, and answers to frequently asked questions related to properly cleaning and disinfecting your glasses.
When cleaning your eyeglass frames, use warm, soapy water to remove dirt and bacteria, and a gentle cloth to dry them.
When cleaning your lenses, avoid using cleaners with ammonia. Your lenses have many different coatings on them that are sensitive to ammonia and other chemicals found in most household cleaners.
If you’ve neglected your glasses for a period of time, or they’ve simply accumulated a lot of grime from years of wear, you might enquire about a professional cleaning if your glasses are still in good shape. Lenses that don’t have many blemishes and frames that have maintained their shape well are good candidates for a professional cleaning. New nose pads and a little adjustment will make those old glasses seem like new again.
When handling your glasses, hold them by the frames and use both hands—avoid dropping them on the lenses. When you set down your glasses, place them upside down with the bridge at the bottom. This prevents scratched lenses, and keeps more top-heavy frames from falling over.
Always store your glasses in their case to prevent them from getting dusty or having anything spilled on them. Be careful of leaving them in places that get too hot—near a heater, fireplace, or in a hot car, for example. Heat can warp lenses or cause them to peel.
No. Cleaning your glasses removes dirt, grime, and some amount of germs. Disinfecting kills a high percentage of germs on a surface. Sanitizing reduces the number of germs on a surface to a level deemed 'safe' according to public health standards. Sterilization kills all microbial life, appropriate in medical or laboratory settings. But most health officials maintain that cleaning hard surfaces with dish soap and water is an effective strategy to kill the COVID-19 virus. According to Dr. Ryan Parker, O.D.:
"Simple soap and hot water will clean the lenses, remove bacteria/viruses, and be safe for all parts of the glasses."
You may be able to disinfect your eyeglasses after you wash them using a diluted rubbing alcohol solution, but be advised that so doing may damage special coatings on your lenses; please call us if you have questions about disinfecting your eyeglasses. Some types of safety glasses can be disinfected using a preparation of one part bleach per thousand parts water, but bleach can corrode metal. You can also use ammonia and water, or tincture of iodine and water, in the same ratio. (Never mix these chemicals.) Soak your safety glasses in the preparation for two minutes, and then thoroughly rinse them in warm water—cleaners or disinfectants can damage the lenses or frames if not completely rinsed away. Dry the glasses with a lint-free cloth.
Most health officials maintain that cleaning hard surfaces with dish soap and water is an effective strategy to kill the COVID-19 virus. And Dr. Ryan Parker, O.D., suggests:
"Using hot water and lotion-free soap will do the trick. You want to stay away from household glass cleaners as they have chemicals in them that can damage certain lens coatings. Also, you would want to stay away from soaps that have those abrasive beads in them."
Yes. Your eyeglasses or sunglasses can harbor bacteria, mold spores, and other irritants. But cleaning the frames and lenses regularly with soap and water easily removes bacteria from them. Avoid cleaning your glasses by fogging the lenses with your breath—this only adds germs to your eyeglasses.
Maybe. Alcohol is an ingredient found in some commercial lens cleaning preparations. But using alcohol to clean your glasses might damage special lens coatings. You can try a homemade preparation using a spray bottle filled three quarters with rubbing alcohol, two drops of dishwashing liquid, and then topped off with tap water. If you have questions about using alcohol to clean your glasses, please call us.
According to Dr. Ryan Parker, O.D.: "A diluted solution (70%) of isopropyl alcohol is also useful. It should not pose any issues to good quality lenses, but one should be careful because it can remove some ink and dyes from the frame."
A commercial eyeglass cleaner that contains alcohol may disinfect your glasses.
Research shows COVID-19 is detectable for up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel, two materials found in some eyewear. But routinely cleaning your glasses with soap and water is thought to effectively kill the virus, which according to the CDC is more likely transmitted through person-to-person contact.
Some experts suggest that glasses wearers may enjoy some amount of extra protection from COVID-19 because the virus can spread via the eyes. Glasses provide at least some barrier against airborne droplets carrying the virus, and may also deter the wearer from touching their face, yet another way that the virus may spread.
Contact one of our experienced opticians if you have any questions about lens cleaning, how to handle your glasses or just a question about our eyewear in general.