Good news if you have bad eyesight. Wearing glasses may give you more protection against COVID-19 according to a new study published in JAMA Ophthalmology.
The study’s authors looked into the number of patients admitted into the hospital in Wuhan (where the pandemic outbreak started) that wore glasses regularly and found that this, in fact, a very small population.
They found that just 16 COVID-19 patients or 5.8% of the 276 patients admitted over a 47-day period with COVID-19 wore glasses for more than eight hours a day and were nearsighted.
“Wearing of eyeglasses is common among Chinese individuals of all ages, ” the authors wrote. “However since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan in December 2019, we observed that few patients with eyeglasses were admitted in the hospital ward.”
But here is where it gets really interesting. In the general population in Wuhan the researchers found that over 30% of people around the same age as the COVID-19 patients needed glasses for myopia (nearsightedness.) This brought the scientists to the conclusion that wearing glasses could actually protect you from getting coronavirus.
Should you wear goggles to protect yourself from COVID-19?
The eyes may be a route for the virus to spread via someone coughing, sneezing in close proximity as well as if a person rubs their eyes after getting virus particles on their hands. SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted into your system through the proteins from your eyes and tears, according to research from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Dr. Mark Ruchman, chief medical officer, Versant Health, told Managed Health Care Executive, “The eyes are an important part of the body to protect because, like the nose and mouth, they are mucous membranes where germs can infect the body. The virus spreads when infected droplets from a sick person’s mouth or nose come in contact with another person’s face, often when they cough, sneeze or talk. Although it’s more likely to be infected by inhaling these droplets through your mouth or nose, they can also enter through your eyes, especially if you touch something that has viral particles on it and then rub your eyes.”
This does beg the question that if you don’t wear glasses, should you start wearing some sort of protective goggle? The CDC states that people should wear eye protection in “areas with moderate to substantial community transmission” but if you are in an area with very little transmission then eyewear is optional as long as you are practicing social distancing and washing your hands regularly.
And then some may ask, would sunglasses also protect against this virus? The answer is no. In fact, sunglasses could actually put you at more risk. “You increase your risk to COVID exposure when you wear your shades shopping,” Gail Trauco R.N., BSN-OCN, patient advocate and CEO/founder of Medical Bill 911, told Eat This Not That. “You wear your sunglasses on your head or clip them on your shirt and frequently touch or adjust them while shopping. It’s an unnecessary risk for a 30-minute shopping venture.”
It should be noted though that this study was very small, which the authors do note.