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Can regular Eyeglasses prevent COVID-19 infection?

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Eyeglasses help you from stumbling over footstools and wandering into walls, but they may also make individuals with 20/20 vision jealous.

A Chinese study suggests that daily glasses wearers may be less prone to COVID-19 infection.

Only 6 percent of 276 COVID-19 patients at Suizhou Zengdu Hospital in China needed daily glasses due to nearsightedness. The study found that nearsighted people make up roughly 32 percent of the population in Hubei province, where the hospital is located.

Dr Yiping Wei and colleagues from Nanchang University’s Second Affiliated Hospital hypothesized that eyeglasses could prevent COVID-19 infection by preventing wearers from touching their eyes.

Eye protection may also lower the likelihood of virus-laden airborne droplets contacting the eyes, the authors write in JAMA Ophthalmology.

The findings also showed that eyeglass wearers who had COVID-19 got sick just like normal vision people.

“Although this is an observational study and you cannot infer anything definitive from it, there is a suggestion that eye protection of any sort may decrease your risk of getting infected,” said Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in Baltimore.

“This needs to be confirmed with other observational studies and more formal studies of, for example, face shield use. However, it is increasingly being noted that eye protection is important,” Adalja added.

A mask and goggles are required at several hospitals, including Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, New York, according to Dr Aaron Glatt, head of medicine and chief epidemiologist.

“Because we do make that a mandate, people frequently ask, ‘If I wear glasses, is that good enough?’ And our answer is no,” Glatt said.

Unlike goggles or face shields, prescription glasses do not totally conceal the eyes.

“Glasses might provide some protection, but obviously a regular pair of glasses, the particles in the air theoretically getting into the eye could easily go around the glasses,” Glatt said.

According to Dr Lisa Maragakis, it’s also just as likely that eyeglasses “might pose an increased risk of touching one’s eyes more frequently and potentially contaminating them when removing, replacing or adjusting the eye protection.”

Maragakis is the Johns Hopkins Health System’s senior director of infection control and wrote the study’s editorial.

She and Glatt cautioned that the study used a limited sample and that larger samples are needed in future research.

“It’s a provocative study. It’s a very interesting study,” Glatt said. “It certainly has science behind it to suggest it could be a causal effect, but it obviously needs to be studied under a more rigorous fashion or other studies need to confirm these same results.”

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