WEARING glasses could reduce your risk of catching coronavirus, a new study suggests.
Experts in China found that just 10 per cent of patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 early in the pandemic needed glasses.
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Scientists from the Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University say that the eyes are one of the ways the virus can get into the body.
The researchers claim that frames could act as a barrier for Covid to attach itself to ACE-2 receptors – the specific protein that provides the entry point for coronavirus to hook into.
Their study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, analysed 276 patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 between January 27 and March 13.
They found that 30 patients (10.9 per cent) wore glasses, including 16 cases of people who are short-sighted and 14 who are long-sighted.
Of those patients, 16 (5.8 per cent) said they were long-term wearers – defined as wearing glasses for more than eight hours a day.
They compared this with a study from around 35 years ago of students aged between the age of seven and 22 in the Hubei province, which showed that 31.5 per cent of short-sighted people wore glasses.
It would make those participants between the age of 42 and 57 – close to the median age of 31 for the Covid-19 patients.
This suggests that the general population is 5.4 times more likely to wear glasses daily than those diagnosed with coronavirus.
The authors, led by Weibiao Zeng, wrote: "Our main finding was that patients with Covid-19 who wear eyeglasses for an extended period every day were relatively uncommon, which could be preliminary evidence that daily wearers of eyeglasses are less susceptible to Covid-19."
Based on their findings, the researchers suggest that glasses may "prevent or discourage wearers from touching their eyes, thus avoiding transferring the virus from the hands to the eyes."
They added: "For daily wearers of eyeglasses, who usually wear eyeglasses on social occasions, wearing eyeglasses may become a protective factor, reducing the risk of virus transfer to the eyes and leading to long-term daily wearers of eyeglasses being rarely infected with Covid-19."
The experts also suggest that their findings suggest that healthcare workers should have better eye protection, as well as face masks and other PPE.
It also provides further evidence for the case of other preventative measures such as hand washing and not touching faces, they add.
However, experts have cautioned against people wearing glasses if they don't need them to correct their vision.
Dr Lisa Maragakis, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said: "Although it is tempting to conclude from this study that everyone should wear eyeglasses, goggles, or a face shield in public to protect their eyes and themselves from Covid-19, from an epidemiological perspective, we must be careful to avoid inferring a causal relationship from a single observational study."
It comes after the US's top advisor on the coronavirus pandemic suggested that people should wear goggles to protect themselves from the bug.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked back in July if he sees a time where eye protection is recommended.
He responded: "It might, if you really want perfect protection of the mucosal surfaces.
"You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye.
"Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So if you have goggles or an eye shield you should use it."
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