MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As people look to prevent COVD-19 by disinfecting the world around them, doctors warn one method may be harmful to your eyes.
Dr. Guillermo Amescua is an ophthalmologist and associate professor with the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Around March and April, at the start of the pandemic, he and a team of doctors spotted a trend in some of their patients.
“We noticed they were using germicidal lamps with the purpose of sterilizing or cleaning, sanitizing surfaces or air, and the lamps were not being used according to manufacturer instructions,” he said.
Amescua said if not used properly, the lamps can create a painful inflammation of the cornea, a condition called photokeratitis.
“They are very effective at killing organisms but they’re also toxic for the superficial layer of the cornea and also the skin,” he said. “It very painful for the patient, it can be incapacitating for driving.”
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While protecting against the virus, safety must be taken into account when using germicidal lamps.
“The problem here is that these lamps are emitting UV light in the C range which can be very toxic and the recommendation is to not be present in the same room while the lamp is on and functioning,” said Amescua.
The good news here is the injury can heal fast with proper treatment and most people recover completely.
Numerous germicidal lamps are on the market, and while they may be safe for at-home use, those who buy them need to pay close attention to manufacturer recommendations to prevent damage to the eyes and skin.
Anyone feeling eye discomfort after exposure to one of these devices to promptly seek medical attention from an ophthalmologist.