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UV disinfecting against SARS-CoV-2? When “protection” can hurt you

2020 is destined to be an extraordinary year. A sudden outbreak of pneumonia epidemic caused by the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, launched a rapid offense to people all across China. In such a critical time, there are not only healthcare professionals on the frontline, but also the general public at home. Many of them use every protection one may imagine.

All levels of protective masks, latex gloves, and alcohol spray were snapped up, and some companies and households even purchased UV lamps themselves to disinfect the environment and daily necessities.

When “protection” can hurt you

However, EuroEyes reminds you: These anti-epidemic “weapons”, once used improperly, may not only spare the viruses, but also hurt you. Maybe you will stop the virus, but at the cost of serious self-inflicted damage.

Recently, many eye hospitals in China have reported that a number of emergency patients with “extreme pain in both eyes that they can’t open them”. When asked about the onset of illness, all the clues they provided were pointing to a common “prevention” – ultraviolet light.

All of these patients had been exposed to ultraviolet light within 12 hours. Although there were no symptoms at the time of exposure, they started with tingling sensation in their eyes, or even photophobia that keeps eyes closed, tearing, and blurred vision in the evening or late at night. Some patients also had facial burning sensation.

UV radiation rays brings damage to the cornea of ​​the eye

In this regard, ophthalmologists from EuroEyes would like to kindly remind you to be careful with the use of UV lamps! The aforementioned behaviors are absolutely prohibited. Otherwise, while destroying the virus, it will also inflict great damage to the eyes and skin.

Prolonged exposure of the human body to UV radiation rays brings damage to the cornea of ​​the eye, causing death and detachment of the cells on the corneal surface. This condition has a medical term, photokeratitis. Because the corneal surface has an abundance of pain-perceiving nerves, detachment of surface cells leads to eye pain, redness, strong foreign body sensation, photophobia, eyelid spasm, blurred vision and other symptoms. The longer the exposure, the worse the symptoms.

So how to be safe when using UV light for disinfecting?

EuroEyes ophthalmologists’ advice: There are many techniques and devices for ultraviolet disinfection. The use of ultraviolet disinfection in hospitals and clinics follows strict standards of procedures. For home and general workplace scenarios, remember the following:

  1. Before use: Read the instruction manual in detail and follow the instructions strictly.


  1. In use: When the UV light is turned on, all personnel must leave the disinfection area and close doors and windows to avoid burns to the eyes and skin by UV light.


  1. After use: Turn off the UV light in time after disinfection. It is best to open the doors and windows and ventilate for 30 minutes before entering the disinfection area.

If you have been exposed to UV radiation for a long time and the above-mentioned symptoms, we recommend that you seek medical care immediately and do not rub your eyes. Delay of seeing a doctor may cause infectious keratitis, which is difficult to manage.

However, there’s certainly no need to panic at the symptoms of photokeratitis. After examination by a professional ophthalmologist and a diagnosis is made, prophylactic antibiotic drops will be prescribed, as well as symptomatic treatments such as eye drops or eye ointments that promote corneal and conjunctival epithelial repair. It usually takes 2-3 days to recover.

For the fight against the SARS-CoV2, it’s better to be safe first. Disinfection of your surroundings is undoubtedly important, but you need to pay more attention to the hygiene and health of your own body. Let’s work together to win the antiviral war in a scientific and healthy way!

Contributed by Dr. Jørn Jørgensen Eye Team

Dr. Xiaojian Zhong

About EuroEyes

The EuroEyes Clinic Group is a globally successful company that was founded 26 years ago in Hamburg and has its headquarters there until today. In addition to locations throughout Germany, EuroEyes is also represented in China and Denmark. The company offers patients the full range of refractive surgery for the correction of visual disorders. Using state-of-the-art eye laser and lens surgery procedures, EuroEyes treats more than 25,000 patients each year with nearsightednessfarsightednessastigmatismpresbyopia or cataract. The treatment enables the start of a life free of glasses and contact lenses without any impairment of visual quality.

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