(HealthyResearch.com) – COVID-19 shows no signs of slowing down, with CDC reports continuing to reflect an average of over 1,000 US deaths per day. Some experts have investigated the benefits of adding goggles in addition to masks to protect against infection. This step may seem like an overreaction for avoiding a respiratory infection, but the eyes could be surprisingly vulnerable. We have more details here.
Infections Through the Eyes
The eyes may seem an unlikely route for a respiratory infection to enter the body, but recent studies have shown it’s possible. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, uses a specific enzyme, ACE2, as a sort of door into cells. An article recently published in Nature demonstrates the presence of ACE2 on human corneas, which means we may be able to contract this virus through our eyes via airborne particles.
When we shed SARS-CoV-2 virus, aerosolized copies enter into the air every time we exhale, according to the WHO. The most recent research indicates that our aerosols may stay airborne for as long as 16 hours. As a result, an uninfected person could be at risk somewhere long after a person transmitting the virus has gone. Masks may offer a small measure of protection against inhaled particles, but they can’t protect the eyes.
Goggles May Reduce Transmission
A meta-analysis just released by The Lancet shows the potential benefit of wearing eye protection in addition to a face mask. A review of 172 observational studies conducted in multiple settings shows a combination of multi-layered face-coverings, adequate physical distance and eye protection could significantly reduce transmission rates.
At this time, the researchers recommend people in high-risk or high-interaction groups add eye protection to reduce their chances of catching the virus. This recommendation doesn’t currently apply to the masses, but anyone concerned about airborne particles reaching their eyes may still want to consider protective goggles or a face shield. Current recommendations call for all people to wear masks while out in public, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Masks and other protective measures can only help so much, but with this pandemic continuing to spread out of control, we might need all the help we can get. We know the virus can remain airborne for ridiculous lengths of time, and we know there’s the potential to catch this virus if it so much as hits the eyes. For some people, looking a little silly to stay safe now might be preferable to a far less comfortable alternative later.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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