UAE doctors explain: Can eyeglasses protect you from Covid-19?


Dubai - Eyeglasses in general protect you from such airborne conditions.

By Saman Haziq

Published: Fri 26 Feb 2021, 8:14 PM

A study done in China revealed that those wearing eyeglasses appeared to be at lower risk of contracting Covid-19. Though UAE ophthalmologists agree that eyewear or goggles could help, they say there’s not enough evidence to support the new study.

Researchers who published the findings in the JAMA Ophthalmology journal found that the proportion of Covid-positive near-sighted people — who wore glasses for more than eight hours a day — was five times lower than the number of Covid patients with normal eyesight.

Dubai opthalmologist Dr Lilan Bhat explained that glasses might help in reducing the number of times people would touch their eyes after getting in contact with a contaminated surface. However, she said the overall link between eyewear and Covid infection remained weak. In fact, a spokesperson of the American Academy of Ophthalmology had earlier said “there is insufficient information to recommend that people start wearing eye protection in addition to masks”, she added.

“Protective glasses, not the regular ones, are mandatory for healthcare professionals, especially those working in the intensive care units and respiratory therapists. People can wear face shields when stepping out as that also helps to protect the eyes,” said Dr Bhat of Prime Hospital in Dubai.

Another ophthalmologist at Medeor Hospital, Dr Sanjay Vodela, said: “Coronavirus can spread through the eyes when an infected person coughs or sneezes in close proximity or if you touch a contaminated object before touching your eye. Eyeglasses in general protect you from such airborne conditions, as droplets from such a situation will not hit your eye and this is why contamination chances are higher if you do not have an eyewear.”

Can Covid be linked with eye infections? Dr Bhat said sore eyes had been frequently noted in Covid-positive patients who experience redness, tearing and mucous discharge, “more so in patients admitted in the intensive care unit”.

“Rarely, severe infections — including a corneal infection and other sight-threatening infections — are possible. In just one Covid patient, I saw a severe herpes virus infection of the eye, probably a reactivation which resolved over several weeks leaving behind corneal scars,” she said.

Dr Vodela added: “We saw two cases of eye infection related to Covid and both mimicked a typical conjunctivitis with complaints of redness, pain in the eye, glare and blurry vision, but these didn’t last long and faded away in sometime after we gave them supportive medication, mainly eye lubricants. Both the patients were free of these symptoms within 32 hours after taking the prescribed medications.”

How you can take care of your eyes

The doctors advise that it is important to keep one’s eye health in check in the time of Covid-19. Making sure the eyes are lubricated could give people a layer of protection that can thwart virus attack.

“Since people are wearing masks most of the time, indoor and outdoor, this can lead to dryness of the eyes. They need to ensure they nourish their eyes with lubricants that give them a layer of protection. Eye drops also act as a barrier as they do not allow air-droplets to directly attack your eye. I give my patients over the counter unidose drops that are preservative free and can be used 4-6 times a day,” said Dr Vodela.

Dr Bhat added: “Apart from washing hands regularly, one must avoid touching their face, nose and eyes. Regular glasses may act as a partial barrier, protecting from aerosols and helping us avoid touching the eyes. However, frequently adjusting the glass frames will negate any benefit.”

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