New study suggests wearing glasses may reduce risk of catching COVID-19

Glasses might provide protection, but wearers could still be infected through the eyes

Study suggests wearing glasses may reduce risk of COVID-19 infection

DETROIT – The most important things to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is mask use, physical distancing and frequent hand washing, but a new study suggests there’s something else that can help.

Hospital workers use eye protection -- typically in the form of wrap-around goggles or face shield -- due to the possibility of infection through the lining of the eyes.

So could ordinary glasses make a difference?

RELATED: Can wearing contacts increase your chances of catching COVID-19?

A study by the medical journal JAMA Ophthalmol wanted to see if there was any relationship between wearing eyeglasses all day and the likelihood of becoming infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The researchers evaluated all 276 patients hospitalized in a hospital for COVID-19 between the end of January and middle of March and asked specifically if a patient wore glasses and for how many hours during the day. They also asked about contact lens use and refractive surgery like LASIK.

The study found that 31 percent of people in the region wore glasses regularly, but only 6 percent of those in the hospital needed to wear glasses every day.

If wearing glasses was not related to being hospitalized for COVID-19, you’d expect to find 31 percent of the patients to be people who wore glasses, but the researchers found only 6 percent of the patients wore glasses more than 8 hours a day -- far fewer than expected.

The researchers believe two factors could be related -- people with glasses likely touch their eyes less frequently and that the glasses themselves may provide a barrier to the virus reaching and infecting the eyes.

Incidentally, none of the patients wore contact lenses or had refractive surgery. The study was purely observational and doesn’t state wearing glasses decreases the chance of being hospitalized with COVID-19, but it’s plausible glasses could be protective in decreasing the amount of virus a person is exposed to.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Read more about coronavirus here.

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.