Researchers in China have discovered that individuals who put on glasses seem like at decrease danger of catching COVID-19.
The authors of the examine, printed in JAMA Ophthalmology, observed that because the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019, few sufferers with spectacles have been admitted to hospital affected by COVID-19.
To analyze additional, they collected information on the sporting of glasses from all sufferers with COVID-19 as a part of their medical historical past.
Their small examine discovered that solely 16 (5.eight p.c) of the 276 sufferers admitted with COVID-19 wore glasses for greater than eight hours a day.
As they decided that each one these sufferers have been short-sighted, they subsequent seemed up the proportion of individuals with myopia (short-sightedness) in Hubei Province, the place the hospital is positioned.
They discovered this to be a lot bigger (31.5 p.c), indicating that the proportion of short-sighted COVID-19 hospital admissions was over 5 occasions decrease than may be anticipated from that inhabitants.
It is a fascinating remark, however as with all single research the outcomes have to be handled with warning.
Whereas eye safety has at all times been an necessary element of non-public protecting tools (PPE), the magnitude of distinction reported by this examine raises suspicion.
This isn’t to say that the outcomes is probably not actual, however quite that we should not begin advising large-scale behavioural adjustments (corresponding to sporting goggles alongside our face masks) till they’ve been independently confirmed.
Are eyes a window for the virus?
One of many key steps for any viral an infection is the preliminary entry into the physique. Whereas most of our physique is roofed with protecting pores and skin, which may be very efficient at stopping viruses or micro organism crossing into our physique, far thinner “membranes” cowl our airways, digestive system and eyes.
The position of those thinner membranes is to permit exterior issues corresponding to oxygen, meals, and within the case of eyes, gentle, into our our bodies. Sadly, viruses have realized to benefit from these entry factors.
That is the explanation PPE is designed to guard these entry factors, by the usage of face masks, goggles and protecting clothes.
Nonetheless, whereas we’d think about that the principle assault on these areas comes from viral particles transmitted by the air as aerosols, the principle manner that viral particles get to those weak factors is definitely through our arms. Therefore the COVID-19 recommendation to scrub our arms typically, for 20 seconds or extra, and keep away from touching our faces.
It due to this fact is smart that masking our eyes with glasses could provide additional safety, each from the virus which may be carried in different individuals’s breath, but additionally in stopping wearers from touching their eyes.
Certainly, way back to February there have been reviews of individuals catching COVID-19 by not suitably defending their eyes in healthcare settings. Additionally it is identified that comparable factors of entry into the physique (ACE-2 receptors) favoured by the coronavirus are additionally current within the eyes.
Ought to we begin sporting goggles?
A important a part of deciphering any proof coming from observational research is remembering that correlation (two issues taking place collectively) doesn’t essentially imply causation (one factor causes the opposite). To check for causation, a managed trial or check is now wanted.
Ideally, this could observe two fastidiously matched teams of individuals – some sporting glasses and a few not sporting glasses – to see which group will get contaminated extra typically. Proof from such a managed trial will at all times be far stronger than proof from an observational examine corresponding to that within the latest paper.
We should additionally notice that the authors of this examine listed various weaknesses. It was a really small examine at a single web site.
The researchers’ information for the overall inhabitants got here from a a lot earlier examine on a pattern that was not precisely matched (when it comes to age, demography and different elements) to their pattern admitted to hospital with COVID-19. They usually could not assure that each one the individuals with short-sightedness within the normal inhabitants additionally wore glasses for greater than eight hours a day.
So though this new examine may be very fascinating, there are many causes to be cautious about this end result. We actually want extra information earlier than any recommendation might be given about sporting goggles alongside our face masks.
Simon Kolstoe, Senior Lecturer in Proof Primarily based Healthcare and College Ethics Advisor, College of Portsmouth.
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