Good news, glasses wearers: Your spectacles may offer you some extra protection from the novel coronavirus, according to the findings of a new study.
In a report published earlier this month on the pre-print site medRxiv, researchers said that those who wear glasses at least eight hours during the day are less likely to contract the novel disease because they touch their eyes less frequently than those who do not wear glasses.
COVID-19 mainly spreads when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or even talks, with the infectious particles posing a risk to healthy persons should they breathe those infectious particles in (hence the importance of mask-wearing and social distancing measures). However, the virus can also spread through the membranes protecting your eyes, namely the conjunctiva.
Indeed, “touching and rubbing of the eyes with contaminated hands may be a significant route of infection for SARS-CoV-2 virus,” the researchers wrote.
For the study, the researchers surveyed just over 300 people who were hospitalized due to COVID-19 in India. The patients, who ranged in age from 10 to 80, were asked about their glasses-wearing habits. About 60 patients were identified as “long-time glasses-wearers,” per the report.
By the end, the researchers concluded that those who wear glasses were two to three less likely to contract COVID-19 compared to those who do not wear glasses.
“This present study showed that the risk of COVID-19 was 2-3 times less in spectacles-wearing population than the population not using spectacles. [The] protective role of the spectacles was found statistically significant if those were used for [a] long period of the day,” or more than eight hours, they concluded.
The findings bolster previous research done on this topic. In a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology in September, for instance, Chinese researchers also found those who wear eyeglasses for extended daily periods may be less susceptible to COVID-19.