The World Health Organization is now recommending that everyone, including healthy people, should wear face masks when they can’t follow through on social distancing. And though they don’t officially suggest wearing safety goggles or eyewear to protect your eyes, you may want to consider it after you read the following information.
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.”
Safety goggles, which healthcare workers wear, could be one way to protect yourself. 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.
Now one of those areas where it can be difficult to practice social distancing and where surfaces with potential COVID germs abound is the grocery store or really inside any retailer. And some would think if you can’t wear goggles wouldn’t sunglasses achieve the same protection? The answer is no. We love to touch our sunglasses when they are on our faces putting you even more at 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.”
And even if your sunglasses are super chic (and pricey) they are not the same as goggles. Lead author Lyndon Jones, director of the Centre for Ocular Research & Education at the University of Waterloo in Canada, wrote in the Hopkins study, that regular sunglasses or glasses, “does not seal the air around the eyes and, therefore, cannot provide adequate protection.”
“Corrective lenses or sunglasses can shield your eyes from infected respiratory droplets,” the American Academy of Ophthalmology wrote in May. “But keep in mind that they don’t provide 100% security. The virus can still reach your eyes from the exposed sides, tops, and bottoms of your glasses.”