We certainly hope so! We have all heard public health experts and government officials warning us of how important it is to wear our face masks and practice social distancing, but have we also heard of another important barrier to Covid-19? Wearing glasses! Research studies have answered a crucial question - Can wearing glasses be an additional benefit in protecting us from the coronavirus? The short answer is Yes.
The September 16, 2020 issue of JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) cited a research study from Suizhou, China. This study occurred at the Suizhou Zengdu Hospital, which was a designated hospital for COVID-19 treatment in the area from January 27 to March 13, 2020. This study included 276 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The final result showed that the proportion of daily wearers of eyeglasses was lower than that of the local population who did not wear glasses, (5.8% vs 31.5%). The primary finding was that patients with COVID-19 who wore eyeglasses for an extended period (8+h/d) every day were less susceptible to COVID-19.
This makes sense as eyeglasses can prevent or at least discourage wearers from touching their eyes, thus avoiding transferring the virus from the hands to the eyes. According to the American Journal of Infectious Control, studies have shown that normal people will involuntarily touch their eyes about 10 times per hour.
By now, we’ve all heard the information which came out of another 2020 study by The New England Journal of Medicine, which addressed the issue of transmission of Covid-19 and stated, “COVID-19 has been proven to be transmitted mainly through droplets and contact. The eye is also considered an important route of infection.”
Why do glasses protect us from Covid-19?
The American Academy of Ophthalmology gives an excellent answer. “When a sick person coughs or talks, virus particles can spray from their mouth or nose into another person’s face.”
We now know this can also occur from asymptomatic people. We are more likely to inhale these droplets through the mouth or nose, but they can also enter through the eyes.
So, please, try to avoid rubbing your eyes!
This is when wearing eyewear or sunglasses when outdoors can be very effective at helping to prevent these particles from entering our eyes or at least making it less likely for us to touch our eyes. All of this information helps us understand why and how our glasses can form a physical barrier to protect our eyes from airborne germs and COVID-19.
As of February 22, 2021, more than a half-million people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, alone, exceeding public health officials' worst predictions.
There are far too many stories of people who have lost loved ones from this virus.
We can all make our way forward to getting ourselves and our communities back on track by practicing these minor things:
- Wearing masks
- Social distancing when outside our homes
- Self-quarantine if we think we’ve been exposed to the virus
- Washing our hands frequently
- Avoid touching your eyes, if possible
And now we can add an extra layer of protection by wearing glasses over an extended period of time when we’re out in public.
Written by Mollie Patterson, RN, MSN, MS, JD