Wearing this winter accessory could help protect you from COVID

Whether you are hitting the slopes or hitting the grocery store, snow goggles are the accessory of choice as far as protective eye-wear goes this season.

Just like the goggles prevent unwanted snow particles from entering your eyes and potentially damaging your vision, they serve a similar purpose blocking viral loads containing the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Snow goggles stop this virus from infiltrating ocular channels which is important because once this protective barrier is compromised the virus travels up into our nasopharynx and down into our lungs where it does the most irreparable damage.

There are a few known modes of entry for the SARS-CoV-2 to hitch a ride into our bodies. One way the coronavirus can cross that bridge from the outside and inside our bodies to bulldoze our immune system response is via the mucous membranes of our eyes. Why are the eyes considered to be a vulnerable point of entry for the SARS-CoV-2 virus?

This virus needs a host receptor before it can enter our body and shut down our respiratory system. The ACE2 receptor protein acts as a friendly host to any viral load rife with SARS-CoV-2 and in turn introduces this deadly virus to a number of vital organs such as your lungs, heart, kidneys, and liver. Much like a vampire, SARS-Cov-2 cannot enter into your “house” without being invited in by this ACE2 receptor protein first. The mucous membrane of our eyes contains a bevy of this ACE2 receptor protein thus providing another vulnerable point of entry and justifying the call for more rigorous protective eye-wear in the battle against COVID-19.

The aforementioned data and the following quote from board-certified family medicine physician Abisola Olulade might convince you to buy a pair of snow goggles to protect yourself from becoming one of the many new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide.

“Snow goggles can theoretically protect you because coronavirus can enter through the mucous membranes of the eyes. If someone coughs or sneezes and it comes into contact with your eyes, this could lead to COVID. If someone touches a surface that has coronavirus and then touches their eyes, this could potentially cause infection of the membranes of the eye.”

Recent studies and autopsies reveal a dangerous link between unprotected eyes and the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus

In a recent study looking at essential workers caring for those patients positive for COVID-19 8% of them became infected themselves after not wearing protective eye gear. Those doctors and nurses that opted for ocular protective gear had a low 1% infection rate.

This study found in full here emphasized the importance of wearing safety goggles for hospital personnel providing care to intubated patients in the following release. “Considering the common feature of sporadic cases and the higher viral aerosol load in the hospital, the ocular transmission route in hospitals should be seriously considered. A lack of eye protection may lead to ocular surface exposure or facial skin exposure, which may then spread from the facial skin to the hands and other mucous membranes. Therefore, in addition to regular masks, gowns and gloves, goggles and frequent handwashing are essential protective measures, especially for medical staff in close contact with patients with COVID-19.”

In fact, when PPE stock was low in the thick of the pandemic back in April hospital staff broke out snow goggles from their “winter fun” closets for extra protection. The way cases are surging again in the United States consider this is a call to action to take some extra precautions to prevent this virus from any points of access by wearing goggles even though we aren’t directly caring for patients afflicted with COVID-19.

Autopsies performed on patients with fatal cases of COVID-19 also revealed the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the epithelial tissue, cornea, tear ducts, and conjunctival tissue. Another patient also reported immense eye pain and distress after being released from the hospital after apparent full recovery from COVID-19. She later had to go under the knife to relieve her from the complications associated with an acute glaucoma attack. While her respiratory functionality improved, she still had to address the damage this virus did to her eyes.

If you experience any of the following symptoms you may want to get tested to ensure you don’t unknowingly spread this virus in your community on your weekly errand runs or have to deal with more severe ocular distress down the road due to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis:

  • Sore eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Watery eyes
  • Mucous discharge
  • Gritty eyes
  • Foreign body sensation

In conclusion

Until a vaccine is distributed to the general public we must do everything we can to protect ourselves from getting infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus through our own mitigation efforts and behaviors.

Wearing snow goggles is just another mitigation effort on the long list of defenses we already have in place to fight this novel coronavirus. Snow goggles can be especially effective against viral loads from landing on our corneal surfaces because of the tight grip around our eyes. Protective gear like glasses, goggles, masks, gloves, and face shields coupled with vigorous hand washing and abstaining from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth after potentially coming into contact with an infected person will get us through this winter with our health intact.