This Surprising Thing You Wear Could Protect You From COVID, Study Says

Kali Coleman
·3 min read

People have adopted various precautions in the last year to try to protect themselves from the coronavirus, from staying home as much as possible to wearing masks when going outside. Some even go as far as to wear gloves when out and about, although this practice isn't recommended by health officials. As it turns out, you may already be keeping yourself safer without even realizing it, as an accessory you might wear on a daily basis could be protecting you from COVID. Read on to find out if you're being protected already, and for precautions that aren't working, This Vitamin Won't Protect You From Severe COVID, New Study Finds.

People who wear glasses may be less likely to get COVID.

Researchers from India studied how glasses could protect someone from COVID, publishing their findings—which have not yet been peer-reviewed—on medRxiv on Feb. 13. The researchers observed 304 COVID patients between the ages of 10 and 80 at a hospital in northern India, with 19 percent of the patients reporting that they wore glasses most of the time. Comparing this to the estimated 40 percent of those who wear glasses in the general Indian population, the researchers concluded that the risk of catching COVID was two to three times lower for those who wear glasses than those who do not. And for more ways you might be protected, If You Have This in Your Blood, You May Be Safe From Severe COVID.

Researchers say this may be because glasses create a barrier between the eyes and the virus.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19, enters the body through an enzyme called the ACE2 receptor, which can be found all over the body, including in the eyes. This, alongside the fact that the eyes are usually directly exposed to viruses, may make this body part "the initial site of infection," researchers say. Wearing glasses, then, protects the eyes from this direct exposure. According to the researchers, the "protective role of the spectacles was found statistically significant" if they were worn for more than eight hours a day. And for more coronavirus news, If You've Done This Recently, You’re 70 Percent More Likely to Get COVID.

But it may also be because people who wear glasses touch their eyes less.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), transmission through touching contaminated surfaces is another way people can become infected with the virus—though not as common as airborne transmission. When a person touches infected particles on a surface, they can transfer the virus to themselves by touching their eyes, nose, and mouth, which also contain ACE2 receptors. The researchers say this is a likely scenario. According to the study, on average, a person is likely to touch their own face 23 times in one hour and their eyes, three times per hour. However, people who wear glasses are less likely to touch their eyes and therefore less likely to get COVID, as "touching and rubbing of the eyes with contaminated hands may be a significant route of infection," the study said. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

The CDC doesn't necessarily recommend that people start wearing glasses to protect themselves from COVID.

The researchers note that a person's likelihood of touching their own nose or mouth is significantly reduced because many people are wearing masks that block these body parts. A mask doesn't stop someone from touching their eyes, however. But while the CDC recommends that most people wear masks, they don't necessarily push the need for glasses or other eye protection, like goggles. According to the agency, this type of eye protection "may be used in addition to a mask," but the CDC doesn't explicitly say it recommends this practice. And for guidance on COVID protection, If You're Layering These Masks, the CDC Says to Stop Immediately.