Study finds wearing glasses may drastically cut COVID-19 infection risk

Brittany A. Roston - Sep 21, 2020, 4:57pm CDT
Study finds wearing glasses may drastically cut COVID-19 infection risk

Though the mouth and nose get the most attention, the SARS-CoV-2 virus can also be transmitted to someone through the eyes, making it important to wash one’s hands before touching one’s eyes. However, touch isn’t the only route of delivery, with droplets also having the potential to travel through the air to uninfected people. A new study that focused on COVID-19 patients in China found a link between wearing eyeglasses every day and much lower levels of infection compared to patients who didn’t wear glasses.

The study, which was recently published in JAMA Opthalmology, involved data on COVID-19 patients who were in the Suizhou Zengdu Hospital in China. In the case of this particular study, the researchers considered the daily wearing of eyeglasses as being any instance in which someone wears glasses for at least eight hours every single day.

The number of infected patients in the data who met these criteria was small, coming in at less than that of the general population in that region. A total of 276 patients were included in the study, of which a little more than half were male, and only 16 wore glasses for more than 8 hours daily.

The researchers found that whereas 31.5-percent of the local population in that region of China wore glasses, only 5.8-percent of the nearly 300 patients fell into that group, highlighting a drastic difference in infection rates between those who wore glasses and those who didn’t. This is the first study to evaluate the potential link between wearing glasses and reduced infection risk.

Though the study isn’t able to determine whether wearing glasses was the ultimate factor that resulted in far fewer infection cases, the link between the two is promising. Glasses essentially serve as a type of eyeshield that can block droplets from directly depositing on one’s eye. The findings hint that wearing protective glasses of some type may help reduce one’s personal COVID-19 risk.

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