Thu. Oct 22nd, 2020
Coronavirus: Wearing glasses can reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, says a new study- The news grams
Coronavirus: Wearing glasses can reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, says a new study- The news grams

The study finds eyeglasses may protect against COVID. Should you start wearing one?

As the novel coronavirus continues to ravage the globe, scientists and medical experts have expedited the trials of their vaccine candidates, in a bid to launch a potential vaccine soon. Currently, there are more than 130 vaccine candidates in different stages of pre-clinical and clinical trials, and out of these 38 vaccines have reached the critical human trials. However, even as the scientists and medical researchers are working on an accelerated timeline, experts still maintain that it may take anywhere close to six months before a vaccine fit for human use is actually launched for the public.

​Preventive measures are our best bet against the virus right now

This is precisely why prevention methods like wearing face covers or face masks, maintaining social distancing, following proper hand and respiratory hygiene and staying at home, unless absolutely necessary are extremely important. Adding to the list of preventive measures to contain the spread of the pandemic, a small study has found that there is yet another factor which can help in lowering the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Wearing eyeglasses may lower the risk of getting infected with COVID-19: Chinese study

An observational study conducted in China suggests that people who wear eyeglasses are shielded against COVID-19, up to a certain degree. It should be noted that the study has certain limitations as it was an observational study, conducted on a small group. The study has been published in JAMA Ophthalmology. To conduct the research, the authors of the study from Suizhou Zengdu Hospital in Suizhou, China, observed 276 participants in Hubei and looked for the link between wearing eyeglasses and some protection against COVID-19.

The participants were asked how many of them wore glasses, how long did they wear them and why did they wear them. The authors found that 30 participants (11 percent) wore glasses but only 16 (5.8 percent) of them wore the glasses for more than eight hours of the day as they had myopia. The researchers compared these findings to an earlier study which found that 31.5 percent of the people in Hubei district had myopia and all of them wore eyeglasses.

What did the researchers conclude about the study?

Comparing how only a small population of people with myopia (who wore glasses) had contracted COVID-19, in spite of a large population with nearsightedness, researchers concluded that wearing glasses may provide some degree of protection against the infection. They hypothesized that glasses may act as a barrier that reduces the frequency of people touching their eyes and further reducing the risk of contracting the virus. However, given the fact that it was a very small scale of study with a very small sample size and was conducted in a single-center, the conclusion may not be as significant. Furthermore, the data referred to calculate the number of people with myopia was also derived from a previous study, not the current population of Hubei.

The limitations of the study

To understand the limitations of the study further, JAMA asked epidemiologist Lisa L. Maragakis from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US to attach her commentary to the observational study. Dr. Lisa also observed that since the study was taken place in the early months of the pandemic, the data on other preventional measures including hand washing and social distancing was shaky.

She expanded, “This makes it difficult to assess any incremental benefit of eye protection in public settings over and above these basic interventions that are now the mainstay of Covid-19 prevention.”

Should you wear glasses to reduce the risk of coronavirus?

In addition to face shields and face masks, safety goggles are an important part of the PPE (Personal protective equipment) kit. Eye shields or goggles may help in preventing exposure to aerosols in typical hospital settings, but the jury is still out on the efficacy of eyeglasses to reduce the risk of transmission. Reachers believe that more detailed studies need to be conducted, in order to understand the correlation between wearing eyeglasses and increased protection against COVID-19.

One possible explanation can be that those who wear eyeglasses are less tempted to rub their eyes or touch their eyes owing to the glass barrier. However, it may be too soon to advise the general public to start wearing glasses as a protective measure. Experts worry that those who are not used to wearing glasses or goggles may increase their risk of contamination by constantly touching, adjusting, or moving the glasses.

Stay tuned at the news grams

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