Wearing glasses every day may reduce the risk of contracting the new coronavirus, a new study suggests.
Chinese researchers found that COVID-19 patients were five times less likely to have frames than the general population.
The team, from the Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, says they believe this is because ACE-2 receptors, which the virus attaches to to enter and infect human cells, are found in the eye.
The findings also provide further evidence as to why healthcare workers should wear eye protection and why more attention needs to be focused on preventative measures such as washing hands frequently and avoiding touching the face.
A new study found that 5.8 percent of nearly 300 coronavirus patients wore glasses eight hours a day for myopia compared with 31.5 percent of people in Hubei province. Pictured: A man wears an American and Puerto Rican flag mask in New York City, September 2020
This indicates that people who wear frames are about five times less likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than the general population. Pictured: A healthcare worker cares for a patient in the COVID-19 unit of the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, July 2020
For the study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, the team looked at 276 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between January 27 and March 13.
Thirty patients wore glasses (10.9%), including 16 cases of myopia and 14 cases of hyperopia.
None of those diagnosed with the virus wore contact lenses or had refractive surgery to correct their vision.
A total of 16 patients, all myopic, were long-term carriers, defined as spectacles who wore glasses for more than eight hours per day, or 5.8%.
For the general population, the researchers looked at the study decades ago of students aged 7 to 22 in Hubei Province, of whom 31.5 percent wore glasses for myopia.
At the time of publication, those students would be between the ages of 42 and 57, close to the average age of 31 for COVID-19 patients.
This means that the general population is 5.4 times more likely to wear glasses every day than those diagnosed with coronavirus.
“Our main finding was that COVID-19 patients who wear eyeglasses for an extended period each day were relatively rare, which may be preliminary evidence that everyday eyeglass wearers are less susceptible to COVID-19.” , the authors wrote.
The researchers speculate that the frames “prevent or discourage wearers from touching their eyes, thus avoiding the transfer of the virus from the hands to the eyes.”
Studies recently found that the eyes produce ACE-2, making organs a primary target for the virus.
The coronavirus was not found only on the surface of the eyes, but also inside the tears, which transfer the pathogen.
This may explain why up to 12% of COVID-19 patients experience so-called “eye manifestations,” such as redness and swelling.
“Therefore, the eyes are considered an important channel for SARS-CoV-2 to enter the human body,” the authors wrote.
For everyday eyeglass wearers, who usually wear glasses on social occasions, wearing eyeglasses can become a protective factor, reducing the risk of virus transfer to the eyes and leading to long-term daily wearers of glasses rarely infected with COVID-19. ‘
In an invitation comment, Dr. Lisa Maragakis, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said people shouldn’t wear glasses if they don’t need them.
While it is tempting to conclude from this study that everyone should wear eyeglasses, goggles, or a face shield in public to protect their eyes and themselves from COVID-19, from an epidemiological perspective, we must be careful to avoid inferring a causal relationship from a single observational study, “he wrote.