While much of the Las Vegas community is adjusting to a new stay-at-home reality, medical professionals – from optometrists to dentists to chiropractors – are keeping their offices open, for the time being, in order to provide care and peace of mind in spite of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Social distancing is the new normal, but that can’t apply when we’re providing treatment,” explains Dr. Vivienne Velasco of iFocus Vision Center. “So we’re doing everything we can to keep our office and our staff virus-free, so that we can meet the needs of our patient community.”

Dr. Velasco, like others, has taken steps to increase health and safety, advising patients of the new protocols via social media. These include:

  • Increasing the frequency of cleaning practices, including increased cleaning of surfaces and objects, as well as equipment
  • Providing employees and patients with access to hand sanitizers and soap within our office.
  • Mandating that employees stay home if they are experiencing respiratory or flu-like symptoms such as coughing, fever, etc.

The virus is hitting Las Vegas at an especially difficult time: allergy season. As Dr. Velasco explains in the below Q&A, patients may not immediately be able to tell the difference.

How are the symptoms of coronavirus similar to eye allergies?

Dr. Velasco: Coronavirus symptoms can present themselves as a viral conjunctivitis commonly mistaken for “pink eye.” Viral conjunctivitis will present as a red, swollen, watery eye, often accompanied by a swollen lymph node and cold or flu-like symptoms. Eye allergies will present as itchy, red, swollen, and water eyes which are very similar to a viral conjunctivitis. But eye allergies won’t be accompanied by fever, swollen lymph, or malaise.

In what way(s) is the coronavirus spread through the eyes?

Dr. Velasco:It can be spread from direct contact, either from an exposed hand or droplets from a cough or sneeze in the air. It can also be spread systemically. Like many illnesses that affect the respiratory system, those illnesses can work their way to the eyes.

What precautions should patients take to ensure they stay healthy?

Everyone should be vigilant about washing their hands, especially after touching any surface, using the restroom, and before and after eating a meal.

Avoid touching your face, nose, and eyes. Sneeze into a tissue or sleeve rather than your bare hands.

Soap and water are the most effective ways to kill the virus. If soap and water are not available, then a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent isopropyl alcohol can be used.

Should patients be concerned that there will be shortages of eye drops, medications, or any other eye-related products?

Dr. Velasco: As of yet, I have not heard of any shortages of eye-related products. iFocus Vision Center does have eyedrops, wipes, and vitamins in stock at this time.

We also have on order of Hypochlor Spray by Ocusoft. This is a spray that contains 0.02% hypochlorous acid, a derivative of bleach that is safe to use on the eyes and face. It does not sting and is non-toxic. It is effective at killing viruses, bacteria, and fungus.

This is the solution that the South Koreans are currently using on all healthcare workers and on anyone who may have been exposed to the virus to reduce the spread of it.

Have questions for Dr. Velasco?Call 702-473-5660 or book an appointment online at the iFocus Vision Center website.