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Doctors suggest protecting eyes during coronavirus pandemic. Here’s why.

Many areas across the DMV are requiring people to wear face coverings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but doctors said do not forget about your eyes.

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Many areas across the D.C.-area are requiring people to wear masks or face coverings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A Maryland optometrist is urging the public to not forget about keeping their eyes healthy.

Dr. Devin Sasser recalled the moments he first learned about the coronavirus hitting the DMV.

"We didn’t know much about it," he said. "Not knowing much about something that’s rapidly spreading is a pretty scary thought."

Sasser is a therapeutic optometrist in Montgomery County, who temporarily moved his practice, Eye Clarity Vision, online.

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"It’ll be closed until about April 16th. We'll reevaluate and see where we are, but it doesn't look great to be honest," Sasser explained.

Montgomery County has the second highest number of cases in Maryland, and protocols and recommendations about how to prevent the spread are rapidly changing.

Initially, the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested people only wear masks if they have signs and symptoms.

However, the recommendations have since changed and people are urged to wear masks in public.

Sasser said it is also important for people to protect their eyes because "the eyes are another avenue in which the coronavirus can take hold."

"So, there's an opportunity for those respiratory droplets in the air from people coughing and sneezing and touching the eye after touching a contaminated surface to allow corona or COVID-19 to get into the eye," he told WUSA9.

Sasser said while it may appear logical to wear glasses instead of contact lenses, there is no research that confirms that wearing glasses over contacts will increase or decrease a person’s risk of contracting the coronavirus.

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However, the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests decreasing the amount of time a person wears contact lenses in exchange for glasses.

Sasser advised that people who want to wear contact lenses should follow best practices by washing their hands thoroughly before handling the contacts and limiting the number of times they touch their faces.

The academy also warns that the coronavirus could increase a person' chances of getting pink eye, another highly contagious condition.

Sasser stressed that just because someone may have pink eye it does not mean they have the coronavirus.

"We don’t want to put panic in people," he said. "The first step when you have those issues is to contact your eye care provider."

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