By now, it has been well established that wearing a face mask is one of the best and most efficient ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus. There are already several studies that have shown that face coverings can also reduce the COVID risk of the person wearing them. Now, it appears that there is another accessory that can also protect you from the virus. According to a recent study, people who wear glasses are five times safer and are less likely to contract COVID.
To reach this conclusion, a team of researchers in China studied 276 coronavirus patients in the province of Hubei. They found that of the group, 6 percent wore glasses for at least eight hours a day to combat nearsightedness, Live Science reports. By comparison, the estimated rate of nearsightedness in Hubei as a whole is 31.5 percent. Based on that ratio, the study indicates that eyewear makes people five times less likely to contract COVID, The Daily Mail reported.
The eyes are one of three mucosal surfaces where COVID can enter your body. The other two surfaces – the nose and the mouth – are covered by a face mask. So, for non-glasses-wearers, this third area, the eyes, is often fully exposed. The study, which was published in JAMA Ophthalmology, concludes that glasses provide a physical barrier that can “prevent or discourage wearers from touching their eyes, thus avoiding transferring the virus from the hands to the eyes.” The authors of the study went on to say: “Wearing eyeglasses may become a protective factor, reducing the risk of virus transfer to the eyes and leading to long-term daily wearers of eyeglasses being rarely infected with COVID- 19.”
Throughout the pandemic, many reliable sources urged glasses-wearing people to wear their glasses. The American Academy of Ophthalmology, for example, suggested that contact lens wearers take a break from their routine and revisit using their frames. Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also urged Americans to shield their eyes. In an interview for ABC News, Dr. Fauci said: “Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces, so if you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it.”
Recent studies have also shown that specific enzymes that are produced in the eye make them especially susceptible to COVID. Doctors believe this might also explain why 12 percent of COVID patients report redness and swelling in their eyes as a symptom. Still, scientists warn that more research is needed and that the best defense of all is to practice regular hand washing, continue wearing a face mask, and of course, don’t touch your eyes. Please, remain safe and take good care of yourself!