More than 6 in 10 people in the UK wear eyeglasses, but many do not keep them clean enough to avoid infections. Common eye infections include conjunctivitis, keratitis and endophthalmitis. Each are caused by either bacteria, viruses or fungi. However, glasses can also spread airborne infections such as the common cold via transference from hands or from coughing and sneezing. It is important to avoid rubbing your eyes to prevent eye infections but you must also keep your glasses clean.
The Spread Of Infection
The main concern at present is preventing the spread of Coronavirus. Coronavirus can live on eyeglasses for up to 4 days on plastic and 3 days for stainless steel. Research has suggested that wearing glasses could lower the risk of catching Coronavirus, indicating that eyeglasses act as a kind of barrier, carrying droplets from the air. In addition to viruses, bacterial infections can be spread by wearing glasses. A 2018 study concluded that significant amounts of potentially pathogenic bacteria were found on the surface of eyeglasses which may contribute to eye infections. It was also found that cleaning with an alcohol-free cleaning wipe successfully reduced the number of bacteria.
How To Clean Your Eyeglasses
Your eyeglasses and sunglasses are surfaces just like any other that should be cleaned when you get home to avoid spreading infection. The most effective way is to clean your glasses with soapy hot water. Soap and water are known to be the most efficient killer of many bacteria and virus strains, including Coronavirus. Use a mild dish soap or detergent and soak your glasses for a few minutes, cleaning them down with a soft cloth. Alcohol-free wipes can be used to clean the frames when water isn’t available. Use a cleaning cloth and lens cleaner to wipe your glasses clean throughout the day when needed. Ensure the lens cleaner is appropriate for the type of lenses you have, particularly if they are coated.
Things To Avoid
People who have respiratory viruses carry the virus in their saliva. Therefore, it is not recommended to blow on your glasses to clean them, or to lick your finger and wipe the lenses, as this can spread infection. Stick to using a soft spectacle cleaning cloth to wipe them down instead of using your clothing as bacteria can often be found here. Avoid using harsh paper towels on lenses as they can scratch the surfaces. It might be tempting to use alcohol gels designed for your hands. These are not recommended as they could damage the lenses. Other harsh products such as lemon juice, vinegar or anything containing ammonia which may also have the same effect. Stick to water, soap and specialised cleaners.
It is common to clean the lenses of glasses but perhaps less common to clean the frames. To ensure that you do not contaminate your hands or even your mouth with any harmful bacteria or viruses from the frames, clean your glasses thoroughly once or twice a day.