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Do eye glasses protect against Covid-19?

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Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India    05 January 2023

Wearing eyeglasses may protect against respiratory viruses, suggests a study of nearly 4000 participants published in JAMA Network Open.1 However, the study was inconclusive with regard to protection against spread of SARS-CoV-2.

 

In this study, researchers enrolled 1852 adults to investigate the efficacy of wearing eyeglasses as a barrier to SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses in public places for 2 weeks; the control group included 1865 individuals. Two-thirds (~66%) of the study group was female. Persons who did not regularly wear eyeglasses, currently had no Covid symptoms and had not been Covid-positive in the preceding 6 weeks were included in this randomized controlled trial conducted from February 2 to April 24, 2022.

 

Sixty-eight (3.7%) subjects who wore assigned eyeglasses to be worn in public places had a positive result for Covid-19, which was the primary outcome of the study, compared to 65 (3.5%) in the control group with absolute risk difference of 0.2%. Nearly 10% of participants in the intervention group tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 based on self-report vs 11.5% in the control group. The incidence of respiratory symptoms was 30.8%  among the glasses-wearing group compared to 34.1% of those who did not wear glasses (absolute risk difference, -3.3%).

 

In this trial, conducted when Omicron was the dominant variant, the incidence of Covid-positive cases was comparable between the two groups. However, the incidence of respiratory infections was lower among those who wore eye glasses. Although eye glasses or other types of glasses such as sunglasses were not conclusively proven to protect against Covid-19, wearing glasses can be considered as part of preventive measures because “it is simple, low cost, and has few negative consequences”. They may provide a partial barrier to the infection.

 

Reference

 

  1. Fretheim A, et al. Effect of wearing glasses on risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 in the community: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Dec 1;5(12):e2244495. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.44495.

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