Do People With Glasses Have a Covid-19 Edge?
What we know about eye barriers and the virus
A new study published today in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology suggests that daily glasses wearers might be less susceptible to Covid-19. While the findings are compelling for people who wear glasses, don’t get too excited just yet. The study is very small and only really shows that in a sample of 276 people with Covid-19 in a hospital in Suizhou, China, the proportion of people who wore glasses regularly (over eight hours a day) was smaller than that of the general population.
This study is caveat city!
A research group of 276 people is considered extremely small. The researchers’ observation is that among those Covid-19 patients, 16 were nearsighted and wore glasses. The proportion of people with nearsightedness in the Hubei province is 31.5%, which is much higher than the proportion of people with Covid-19 who had nearsightedness in the hospital. So the researchers identified a small but interesting trend that fewer people with vision problems were among their 276 patients than would be expected based on the prevalence of nearsightedness in the surrounding community. It stands to reason that perhaps wearing glasses protected people from the virus in some way.
But it’s important to note that the study did not actually show that wearing glasses cuts down on the risk of getting Covid-19. That’s not to say the findings are not worth follow-up — they certainly are. But this particular study does not say much for the general public at this moment.
Evidence of ocular transmission of Covid-19 has not been well studied, and the primary way that Covid-19 is believed to spread is through respiratory droplets from person to person. That’s not to say the virus doesn’t spread through the eyes — it can. If infectious droplets landed on your eye, you could be susceptible to infection. It’s logical that perhaps a person wearing glasses would have a barrier to prevent this from happening. In health care settings where health workers are potentially coming in contact with multiple people with Covid-19, eye protection is already a critical part of personal protective equipment; people on the front lines often wear goggles or face shields. Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that goggles and face…