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Do Eyeglasses Really Reduce the Risk of Catching COVID-19?


If you’ve been leaving your glasses on the nightstand and opting for contacts instead, it might be time to switch back. New research found evidence that wearing glasses may make you less likely to contract COVID-19. 

The international study published in The Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research was conducted in a Covid Hospital in Kanpur Dehat, India. It set out to determine whether glasses had any sort of protective benefit against COVID-19. A total of 304 patients between 10 and 80 years old participated in the study, all of whom suffered from COVID-19 symptoms. Of all the patients, 58 people, or 19 percent of all the participants, regularly wore glasses and didn’t take them off during the day or for outdoor activities.

Through a number of calculations, the team also determined that the risk of getting the virus was two to three times less likely among people who wore glasses. The reason? “Touching our face is a frequent habit and on average every normal person touches his face 23 times and his eyes about 3 times in an hour,” study authors wrote, referencing previous research from 2015 on hand hygiene. “Touching and rubbing of the eyes with contaminated hands may be a significant route of infection.” 

Now, these findings should be taken with a grain of salt. The study authors noted that only 40 percent of the general Indian population wears glasses, which made it difficult to compare the study findings to the entire population of India. Another issue was revealed through the patient demographics and hygiene habits. Only 81 of the 304 participants were female, and researchers were unable to account for other preventative measures that the patients may or may not have been taking, like wearing masks. These confounding variables made it even more difficult to apply the findings to the general population. The team also acknowledged that getting infected with COVID-19 through the eyes is extremely rare, but that droplets in the eyes can easily spread to the nose or the mouth by touch. 

Furthermore, some critics have noted that the report wasn’t peer reviewed, and was only published in MedRxiv, a website that posts medical studies before they get to the peer review stage. However, the research was eventually published in the May volume of the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, as mentioned above.

Given the amount of criticism that the study has received, some experts have concluded that there isn’t enough evidence yet to prove that those who wear glasses are less likely to develop COVID-19. However, they agree that the theory does make sense and may be a step in the right direction. 

So, if you personally have found that wearing glasses prevents you from touching your eyes, keep rocking those glasses! 

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