Wearing glasses 'could stop you catching coronavirus'

Scientists in China have suggested that people who wear glasses are less likely to be admitted to hospital with coronavirus.

A study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, found that just 10.9% of  276 patients admitted to hospital between January 27 and March 13 wore glasses, while 5.8% of them wore glasses for more than eight hours a day.

Researchers from the Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University then compared the findings with the proportion of people with shortsightedness in the Hubei Province, which they stated to be higher at 31.5%.

Their research suggests that hospital admissions among glasses-wearers were therefore over five times lower than what could be expected from the region.

The team say this could be due to ACE-2 receptors in the eyes, which is an entry point for coronavirus to infect human cells. Often viral particles penetrate these points through contact with hands, which could include a person touching their mouth or rubbing their eyes.

In the study, the authors 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.’

They stated that this could be due to glasses preventing or discouraging wearers from ‘from touching their eyes, thus avoiding transferring the virus from the hands to the eyes’.

The researchers also found that around 12% of coronavirus patients suffered from ‘ocular manifestations’, such as redness and swelling around their eyes. They said this could be further evidence the eyes are an ‘important channel’ for the virus.

They went on: ‘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 study has not yet been independently confirmed, and it is unlikely that guidance towards the wearing of googles or face shields will change for members of the public without further research.

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