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Many of us wear a mask and eye shield to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but could safety glasses protect us from the virus? Science is close to proving connections between coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the eye. When may it be helpful to shield the eyes?
The Eyes and the Coronavirus
Other viruses infect the tissues covering the whites of the eye and inside the eyelid – the conjunctiva. Most of the conjunctiva is exposed to the air and thus vulnerable to viral attack. Some COVID-19 patients have SARS-CoV-2 infections in the eyes. The virus may have entered the body through this conjunctivitis. To attack the eye, the virus needs to attach to certain types of cells. A small study, currently under peer review, found that a healthy eye’s surface cells contain key factors that SARS-CoV-2 needs to carry out an attack.
Tears can be a way of spreading COVID-19, too. The coronavirus has been detected in the tears of some patients. Rub the eyes, touch someone’s hand, touch their eyes, mouth, or hand-held food, and the cycle continues.
Shielding the Eyes with safety glasses
Doctors, dentists, and other health care workers have been using face shields, goggles, and eye shields for some years. The viruses that cause AIDS and hepatitis spurred on innovations in Personal Protective Equipment. Close contact with potentially infected patients and body fluids is a good reason to take all precautions.
Workers who have close contact with the public may consider wear safety glasses to protect their eyes. If the worker is behind a safety glasses at a checkout counter, for example, their eyes are already partly protected from customer droplets. Workers who have conversations with the public at fewer than 6 feet away may want to shield their eyes in addition to covering their noses and mouths.
How Senior Citizens Can Reduce Exposure
The average senior citizen is at the highest risk for severe illness, long-term complications, and premature death from COVID-19. Age alone, even without pre-existing conditions, is considered a risk factor.
Therefore, follow these general guidelines to avoid COVID-19:
Stay home as much as possible
Stay 6 feet away from others when possible
If you are near people outside the home, wear a face covering over the mouth and nose.
Avoid indoor events – outdoors is better
Avoid large crowds
Do not touch your face or rub your eyes
Wash hands with soap for 20 seconds
Use hand sanitizer
Eye protection should not be needed for most seniors most of the time. However, if you must spend more than a few minutes in an enclosed space such as an airplane, office, or public transport vehicle, consider adding eye shielding. A face mask over the eyes and mouth is crucial. If you can add a face shield, eye shield, or goggles, consider it.
Anyone who wears safety glasses or sunglasses automatically has some protection against respiratory droplets. However, do not count on your glasses for total eye protection.
If you’re in an area where you come into contact with a large number of people like a restaurant or grocery store, work indoors for long periods of time or have to work closely with others – wearing some form of safety glasses or face shield will likely provide greater protection from COVID-19.
If you need safety glasses or face shield masks, please contact us. We can offer you high-quality products.