Researchers To Study Whether Wearing Glasses Daily Makes One Less Susceptible To Covid-19

In our digital age, it’s common to see more people having to wear glasses.

Be it shortsightedness or farsightedness, or even astigmatism, not all of us have super good genes that guarantee invulnerability against these conditions.

The trouble with having to fiddle with glasses daily, however, appears to be a silver lining. Researchers in China have noticed a rather peculiar trend — fewer Covid-19 cases in a hospital wore glasses.

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JAMA Ophthalmology published the study on Wednesday (16 Sep), saying that the trend suggests wearing glasses every day can be linked to less susceptibility to Covid-19.

Let’s take a look at what they have to say in the papers.

Only 16 out of 276 Covid-19 patients wore glasses

The study aims to shed light on the association between daily wear of eyeglasses to Covid-19 susceptibility, if there were any.

Experts first noticed the trend in a cohort of Covid-19 patients hospitalised in Suizhou, China. Out of 276 patients there, only about 16 – or 5.8% – wore glasses for over 8 hours a day.

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This number was significantly lower than that of the local population, where 31.5% of the population in the region are daily wearers of glasses.

Going by the statistics, they speculated that,

[This] could be preliminary evidence that daily wearers of eyeglasses are less susceptible to Covid-19.

Prolonged wearing of glasses daily could be protective

Researchers came up with a few possible reasons behind this:

  • Glasses discourage wearers from touching their eyes
  • This then prevents transmission of the virus from hands to eyes

Eyes are considered one of the important channels for Covid-19 to infect the body, which is why wearing glasses is deemed as a protective factor.

Study may prove importance of neglected Covid-19 guidelines

Even though most Covid-19 safety guidelines focus on preventing infections through the eyes, many are more occupied with wearing masks and isolating themselves at home.

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Recommendations such as washing hands regularly and avoiding touching eyes with hands have not had much emphasis placed on them.

So, researchers deduce that this study may be used to highlight the importance of the recommendations above.

No concrete proof yet, more studies needed

The researchers, however, have acknowledged that their study comes with limitations:

  • Small sample size — it was only a single-centre study
  • Data required may not be up-to-date or complete
  • None of the participants wore contact lenses — link between wearing contact lenses and susceptibility to Covid-19 needs to be studied

In a nutshell, more studies are needed to prove that wearing eyeglasses may lowers one’s risk of getting infected.

Glasses & Covid-19 study has “biological plausibility”

According to the New York Times, Dr Lisa Maragakis – an infectious disease specialist in the United States – commented that the study does have “biological plausibility.”

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This is based on the fact that workers in healthcare facilities use eye protection like face shields and goggles.

But what remains to be investigated is whether eye protection in a public setting would add any protection over and above masks and physical distancing.

She said she thinks this was still unclear.

Hope to see study holds up in other populations

As with multiple studies out there attempting to understand Covid-19, more ground work needs to be done to prove whether trends, like this one, holds up in other populations.

We hope researchers will continue to press on and bring fully verified facts to the public.

Until a vaccine is available globally, we could really use more ways to protect ourselves.

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Featured image adapted from Infoseek.