People wearing eyeglasses may be less at risk for catching COVID-19 than those who do not wear glasses, early Chinese research suggests.
Study researchers analyzed information from 276 patients at a hospital in Hubei Province, China, and found that only 6% said they wore glasses for more than 8 hours a day, all of which had myopia, or nearsightedness. This is significantly lower than previous research with an estimated rate of myopia in Hubei, which was 31.5%.
The new study was published in the journal on Wednesday (16 September) JAMA Ophthalmology, “Is provocative and there is a possibility that the use of eye protection by the general public may offer some degree of protection from COVID-19,” Dr. Lisa Maragakis, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johnson Hopkins University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, wrote in an editorial accompanying the study.
However, Maragakis warns that it is too early to recommend that everyone wear glasses, goggles or public shields, in addition to what they already wear. face masks, To defend against COVID-19. The new study has several limitations – for starters, the study was relatively small and included patients in the same hospital. Importantly, the study found only one association and could not prove a “cause-effect” relationship between wearing glasses and being protected from COVID-19, Maragakis said.
Maragakis called for further studies to confirm and determine the findings “whether there is any incremental benefit in wearing glasses in public settings or other forms of eye protection, in addition to wearing masks and physical disturbances, to the risk of acquisition.” For doing it less. [COVID-19]. ”
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Although it is recommended that health care workers wear face masks as well as face shields or goggles to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19, public health guidelines generally recommend the use of eye protection for the public. Do not promote; Instead they emphasize the importance of masks, Physical disturbances And wash hands. (The CDC does not recommend face shields as an alternative to face masks.)
The study authors at the Suizhou Zengdu Hospital in Suizhou, China, decided to look at the link between eyeglasses and the prevention of COVID-19, as they noticed that some patients with COVID-19 in their hospital wore glasses.
They enrolled 276 patients in their study between January 27 and March 13, 2020. All participants were asked if they wore glasses, how often they wear glasses during the day and why they need glasses.
Overall, 30 participants, or about 11%, stated that they wore glasses, but only 16 participants, or 5.8%, wore glasses for more than 8 hours a day and this was for myopia. (The other 14 participants wore reading glasses.)
To compare this with the general population, the researcher drew on a study conducted in 1985 among students in Hubei Province that revealed that about one-third had myopia, nearly all of whom wore glasses.
However, Maragakis noted that this comparison group is a limitation of the study because the research took place “decades ago” and was not specific to Suizho.
But in general, myopia is a common condition, estimated to affect 27% of the world’s population in 2010, with the highest prevalence in East Asia, World Health Organization.
The authors stated that none of the participants in the study have worn contact lenses, so does wearing contact lenses affect the risk of COVID-19.
Behind the link
Researchers have not investigated why glasses can reduce the risk of COVID-19, but they hypothesize that wearing glasses discourages people from touching their eyes, causing viruses from people’s hands Will be less likely to transfer to their eyes. It is known that the eye cells have receptors that allow SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, to enter the body; And the virus has been detected COVID-19 patients’ eyes.
Maragakis stated that eyeglasses “may also serve as partial obstructions that reduce inoculum [amount] A kind of virus similar to that seen for clothes masks. ”
“These findings suggest that the eye may be an important infection pathway for COVID-19,
More attention should be paid to preventive measures such as frequent hand washing and avoiding touching the eyes, ”the study’s authors concluded.
Nevertheless, in addition to further studies to confirm the findings, researchers need to consider the potential unintended consequences of a general recommendation to wear eye protection in public. People who are not accustomed to wearing glasses or goggles may actually touch their face more often when they can remove, change, or adjust eyewear, Maragakis said.
Originally published on Live Science.