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Eyewear Significantly Reduces Risk of COVID-19 Infection

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A new study undertaken by researchers from University College London (UCL)-UK as part of the Virus Watch prospective population cohort study in England and Wales discovered that eyewear dramatically reduces the risk of COVID-19 infection.

The coronavirus can potentially propagate and cause diseases through human eyes, as we previously reported.

Respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, have been known to infect the eyes or flow into the nose via the nasolacrimal duct. The importance of transmission through the eyes is uncertain, although it is possible that those who wear glasses will have their transmission lowered. The majority of previous research has mostly focused on protective eyewear in healthcare settings.

Health officials and countries haven’t called for people to wear eye protection to keep SARS-CoV-2 from spreading to other people, even though eyewear can help prevent SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Study participants in England and Wales who were part of the Virus Watch prospective community cohort answered questions on their usage of glasses and contact lenses. The frequency of use, the purpose, and the likelihood of wearing a mask with glasses were all considered.

It was confirmed through data linkage with the Second Generation Surveillance System (Pillar 1 and Pillar 2), questionnaires to report positive polymerase chain reaction or lateral flow results, and capillary blood tests to look for antibodies every month for a small group of people (nucleocapsid and spike).

Multivariate logistic regression was used to detect the likelihood of infection based on the frequency and purpose of using glasses or contact lenses. This was done by adjusting for age, sex, income and occupation.

A total of 19,166 Virus Watch participants completed the survey, with 13,681 (71.3 percent, CI 70.7-72.0) stating that they use glasses.

According to the study’s findings, those who always wore glasses for general use had a 15 percent lower risk of infection (OR 0.85, 95 percent CI 0.77-0.95, p = 0.002) than those who never used glasses.

Those who claimed that wearing glasses interfered with mask wearing had their protective effect lowered. Contact lens wearers did not show any protective effects.

The study found that those who wear spectacles have a moderately lower chance of COVID-19 infection, emphasizing the relevance of the eye as an infection pathway. In the community and in healthcare settings, eye protection could be very helpful in reducing transmission.

“The findings of this study demonstrate,” according to the authors of the study, “a moderate reduction in risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in those who always wear glasses compared to never.”

They further added: “Unlike other studies, our results are representative of a community setting, adjust for potential confounders and provide a counterfactual analysis with contact lenses. This extends the current evidence to community settings and validates proposed biological mechanisms of eye protection reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.”

Source: medRxiv – 10.1101/2022.03.29.22272997

Image Credit: Getty

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