- A new study says the risk of coronavirus transmission is further reduced for a particular category of people: Glass-wearers.
- Researchers from India concluded that people who wear glasses are 2-3 times less likely to catch COVID-19 than those who don’t wear any eyewear in public.
- The researchers think that if the virus enters the eyes, it can travel to the nose via the nasolacrimal duct.
The novel coronavirus pandemic is far from over, but the number of cases has been dropping for a few weeks now as vaccinations have been ramping up in various regions around the world. Israel might be the country closest to achieving COVID-19 herd immunity, but the pandemic is here to stay for quite a while. A significant percentage of a country’s population needs to be vaccinated or have survived an infection for herd immunity to be achieved. And even then, there’s always the risk of SARS-CoV-2 developing vaccine-defeating mutations that could infect people who had the illness or were vaccinated. That’s why people will have to continue to observe safety measures that can reduce the risk of infection even after they’ve received both vaccine doses. Face masks, social distancing, frequent hand hygiene, and the ventilation of indoor places can all help reduce the risk of transmission. And it looks like there might be one additional protective device that people might consider, assuming the conclusions of a new study are accurate.
Glass wearers are less likely to get infected than people who do not wear glasses, a new study out of India reports. The study was published on MedrXiv, which means it hasn’t been peer-reviewed. But ABC News explains that the Indian study offers similar conclusions as separate research from China. According to that paper, about 30% of China’s population wears-glasses, but just 5% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 wore glasses.
The Indian scientists looked at data from 304 COVID-19 patients aged 10 to 80 years old. All of them experienced symptoms, but only 60 of them wore glasses and 42 of them were considered long-time glasses-wearers.
The researchers noted that catching a COVID-19 infection through the eyes seems to be “extremely rare.” But the eyes remain an entry point for the pathogen. And other studies have shown that the virus can harm the eyes. The scientists say the virus can make its way to the nose via the nasolacrimal duct that connects each eye with the nose. Once in the nasal cavity, the virus can bind to ACE2 receptors and infect cells before descending to the lungs.
From the early days of the pandemic, health officials have advised the public to avoid touching the face with dirty hands, with special emphasis on the eyes, nose, and mouth. That’s how the virus can enter the body. Then health officials advised the population to wear face masks, which can block droplets and aerosols from reaching the nose and mouth. As an added benefit, masks also prevent people from touching the nose and mouth.
“An individual has [the] habit of touching his own face on average 23 times in an hour and his eyes on average 3 times per hour,” the researchers wrote.
Coronavirus transmission is believed to occur primarily via droplets and aerosols that are ejected by infected people while coughing, sneezing, and talking. But face masks will not block the virus from reaching the eyes or stop people from touching their eyes.
Health professionals treating COVID-19 patients are equipped with safety goggles or plastic shields to help block the virus from reaching their eyes. That’s in addition to medical-grade face masks used to cover the nose and mouth.
The Indian study indicates that glass wearers are 2-3 times less likely to get COVID-19 than people who don’t wear any glasses. If the conclusions are accurate, people might try to use glasses to further reduce coronavirus transmission risks while in public settings. The full study is available at this link.