Your favorite spectacles could also be one of your new defenses against contracting the novel coronavirus, according to a recent study conducted by researchers in China. This investigation looked at the proportion of glasses wearers with Covid-19 versus the general population of glasses wearers in the area, and the findings may surprise you.
The study, published in September 2020, consisted of all 276 inpatients with COVID-19 in Suizhou Zengdu Hospital, Suizhou, China, a designated hospital for COVID-19 treatment in the area, between January 27 and March 13, 2020. The median age of the study cohort was 51 years.
Of the patients, 30 were eyeglass wearers, consisting of 16 cases of nearsightedness and 14 cases of farsightedness. The 16 cases of nearsightedness were all classified as long-term wearers, indicating they wear their glasses for more than eight hours a day. These long-term glasses wearers account for 5.8 percent of the inpatient Covid cases in this study.
To get an estimate of the general population of glasses wearers, the researchers looked at a study from decades ago of students aged seven to 22 years in Hubei province, of which 31.5 percent wore glasses for nearsightedness. These people would now be between the ages of 42 to 57, close to the median age of 51 for the Covid patients in this study.
Thus, the general population is 5.4 times more likely to wear eyeglasses daily than those diagnosed with coronavirus.
“Our main finding was that patients with COVID-19 who wear eyeglasses for an extended period every day were relatively uncommon, which could be preliminary evidence that daily wearers of eyeglasses are less susceptible to COVID-19,” the authors wrote.
How Do Your Glasses Protect You From COVID-19?
The researchers hypothesize that glasses serve as a deterrent, preventing wearers from touching their eyes and therefore avoiding spreading the virus from their hands to their eyes.
According to the researchers, “Studies have shown that normal people will involuntarily touch their eyes about 10 times per hour. Eyes usually lack protection, and an abundance of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 has been found on the ocular surface, through which SARS-CoV-2 can enter the human body.”
Coronavirus has been found on the surface of the eyes as well as in the tears, and ophthalmologists were reported to have contracted Covid-19 during routine examinations.
“Therefore, the eyes are considered an important channel for SARS-CoV-2 to enter the human body. For daily wearers of eyeglasses, who usually wear eyeglasses on social occasions, wearing eyeglasses may become a protective factor, reducing the risk of virus transfer to the eyes and leading to long-term daily wearers of eyeglasses being rarely infected with COVID-19”, the authors wrote.
Should I Wear Glasses?
As we all mask up and take important precautions to prevent contracting the coronavirus, could glasses be the next big public safety measure we take? Dr. Lisa Maragakis, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said people should not wear glasses if they do not need them. However, if you are a glasses wearer or contact lens user weary of having to touch your eyes throughout the day, it may be time for a fresh pair of frames.
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