COVID-19 Information

Welcome to the SLS page dedicated to providing COVID-19 information for doctors and patients.

For Doctors–  Reopening guidelines for practices with scleral lenses are available by clicking the following link. SLS Reopening Guidelines
Below is our recent webinar on Telemedicine and scleral lens management during COVID-19

Patients – see below for frequently asked questions, as well as resources that we hope will help you navigate your eyecare during this uncertain time. Please contact us with any specific questions or requests for education you may have.

Telemedicine and Scleral Lenses: A Panel Discussion

Billing & Coding during COVID-19 (Telemedicine)

Provided by Dr. Clarke Newman, SLS Fellow

Instructions for Patients: Taking Ocular Photos

Provided by Dr. John Gelles, SLS Fellow

Instructions for Patients: Taking VA at home

Provided by Dr. John Gelles, SLS Fellow

Frequently asked questions about scleral lens wear during the COVID-19 outbreak

Does COVID-19 affect the eyes?

COVID-19, aka SARS-CoV-2 is widely known to cause respiratory tract infections but also has presented with various other symptoms [1], such as GI upset [2]. While there has been anecdotal evidence of associated conjunctivitis, it is certainly not a common nor hallmark sign of the disease, and no reports of sight-threatening conjunctivitis (or even severe) have been reported. One study found COVID-19 in the tears of only 1 patient out of 30 COVID-19-positive patients that were tested [3] – and that patient did not have a reported conjunctivitis. Furthermore, there is no evidence that scleral lenses create an increased risk to develop COVID-19, or an associated conjunctivitis. The severity of the respiratory symptoms are the focus of the disease, since it can cause an associated pneumonia or bronchitis and can be life threatening.

Am I at increased risk of infection because I wear scleral lenses?

No, there is no evidence that suggests wearing any type of contact lenses increases risk of COVID-19 transmission. It is important to remember good lens hygiene though. Scleral lens patients are usually quite good at cleaning their lenses properly, so should not have a problem adjusting to diligent lens hygiene during this time.

  • Always remember to wash hands for at least 25 seconds prior to handling lenses
  • Be sure to be an approved disinfection cleaner, and include a rubbing step regardless of cleaner used.

Am I more likely to spread COVID-19 to others because of wearing scleral lenses?

No, there is no evidence that suggests wearing any type of contact lenses increases risk of COVID-19 transmission. But remember that COVID-19 can be spread through contact with the eyes (regardless of any contact lens wear), so it is important to keep hands away from the eyes when not directly managing your lenses. For example, it is important to keep your allergies under control to reduce the chance of eye rubbing (see FAQ below), which can increase contact with the eyes and risk the transmission of any infection.

I have itchy eyes. Should I worry about this?

Itchy eyes can be common with patients who wear scleral lenses. Many scleral lens patients experience itchiness of the eyes due to underlying conditions, or the lenses themselves can cause itching. During the COVID-19, we have become acutely aware of the risks of transmission through the eyes. For this reason, and for your own health and comfort, we recommend taking precautions to control your allergies and therefore reduce the chance of eye rubbing.

If you have itching with and without your scleral lenses, it is likely an underlying cause like seasonal allergies, which are currently at a peak in many parts of the world using one or all of the methods below:

  • Non-medicated artifial tears can be used to help flush allergens out of the tear film, and can provide comfort. Many of these drops can be used with scleral lenses, and are available at The Dry Eye Shop.
  • Medicated allergy drops are available over-the-counter and in stronger, perscription form. Talk to your eyecare provider about which drops you should use to treat your eye allergies. Find a scleral lens specialist using our “find a fitter” tool.

Can I develop conjunctivitis from COVID-19?

There are rare reports of patients who have developed a mild conjunctivitis when they have COVID-19, and they all have been anecdotal (not published in peer-reviewed medical journals). In late January, a doctor in China, developed conjunctivitis while doing an inspection of Wuhan, and then later went on to develop coronavirus [3]. This promted more research into the rate of conjunctivitis associated with COVID-19, which is still ultimately unknown but presumably low. The concern is not the development of the conjunctivitis, since is typically mild with this type of virus, the concern is that findings of the virus in the tears mean that it may be the route of transmission into the rest of the body. There have been no reports of severe or sight-threatening conjunctivits associated with COVID-19, nor any reports at all in scleral lens wearers.

But, remember: try not to touch your eyes, and wash hands frequently to avoid transmission of COVID-19 through your eyes!

Are there any special steps for caring for my scleral lenses during COVID-19?

Normal scleral lens disinfection steps can be taken during this outbreak. However, we continue to remind patients of the importance of diligent hand washing prior to handling scleral lenses or touching near your eyes. When disinfecting lenses with an approved cleaner, remember some simple tips that will go a long way in protecting your eyes from inflammation and infection of all kinds:

  • Scleral lens disinfection should always include a rubbing step, regardless of solution used
  • Scleral lens cases and accessories (applicator, removal plungers) should be rinsed with a multi-purpose contact lens cleaner after each use, and air dried on a clean towel.
  • During illness (COVID-19 or otherwise) we recommend not wearing scleral lenses (for your own comfort, and to improve healing if you do happen to develop an associated viral conjunctivitis). If lenses are anticipated to not be worn for more than 6 days, we recommend storing lenses dry. They can be re-disinfected and conditioned prior to re-starting wear.
  • If you are ill, we recommend replacing scleral lens cases and accessories once recovered from the illness.

I cannot find my lens care products at the store. Where else can I order solutions or extra plungers?

Fortunately, there are no current reported shortages of any scleral lens solutions or products. Solutions and plungers can also be found at online marketplaces such as Amazon or The Dry Eye Shop. Certain products like Menicon’s Unique pH and LacriPure or Bausch and Lomb’s ScleralFil can be purchased from the company web stores.

Please report any known shortages of solutions or accessories to us at

Articles and Publications about COVID-19 and the Eyes

"The COVID-19 pandemic: Important considerations for contact lens practitioners" by Lyndon Jones et al.

Click here for the peer-reviewed publication by Drs. Lyndon Jones et al. in Contact Lens Anterior Eye, April 2020

Contact Lens Spectrum special edition on Contact Lenses with COVID-19

Click here for a recent article in Contact Lens Spectrum in which top contact lens experts dispel misinformation about COVID-19 protection and contact lens wear.

Peer-reviewed manuscript on tear secretions in 30 Chinese patients with COVID-19

A peer-reviewed manuscript in a medical journal showing that out of 30 patients with COVID-19, there was 1 patient where the virus was found in the tear.

Click here to access the article.

Read the latest from Contact Lens Update out of Waterloo in Canada.

Click here for the COVID-19 special edition of the Contact Lens Update, an online educational publication put out by the Center for Ocular Research and Education at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. We recommend the Featured Article by Karen Walsh which reminds us why hand washing is so important with contact lens wear.

Learn why contact lens wear is not a problem with COVID-19 - written by SLS International Chair, Dr. Daddi Fadel

Click here to read Dr. Fadels great article talking about why wearing contact lenses is not a problem during the COVID-19 crisis.

Information from important health organizations

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Recommendations

The CDC current recommendations are to practice social distancing of at least 6 feet between people. As of April 4, 2020 an added recommendation is to wear a face covering when outside or around high-risk cohabitants. People are not recommended to use surgical grade face masks, since they should be reserved for health care workers. Home wardrobe items such as scarves and other fabric items can be re-purposed as fashionable face masks.  Click here for up-to-date CDC recommendations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations

Guidelines from the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

The role of OSHA in the US is to provide recommendations and oversight for workplace safety. They have been working with US companies over the past months to ensure safety for workers at their place of employment. Click here for the current guidelines for workers and COVID-19. 

Recommendations from eye-specific health organizations

Click on the following links to see updates on COVID-19 from the following Eyecare organizations:

The American Optometric Association

The American Academy of Optometry

The American Academy of Ophthalmologists

[1] Seah I, Agrawal R. Can the Coronovirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Affect the Eyes? A Review of Coronoviruses and Ocular Implications in Humans and Animals. Ocul Immunol Inflamm. 2020. doi: 10.1080/09273948.2020.1738501
[2] Yeo C, Kaushal S, Yeo D. Enteric involvement of coronoviruses: is faecal & oral transmission of SARS-CoV-2 possible? Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020. epub ahead of print. 
[3] Xia J, Tong J, Liu M, et al. Evaluation of coronavirus in tears and conjunctival secretions of patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection. J Med Virol. 2020:1-6. In press.
[4] Yan A. Chine expert who came down with Wuhan coronavirus after saying it was controllable thinks he was infected through his eyes. China: South China morning post.