Protecting yourself from SARS-COV-2 requires wearing masks and keeping our 6 feet of social distance. The eyes are also exposed to the aerosols and viruses in the air, so one must also practice wearing eye protection for less risk to catch COVID-19.
Type of Eye Protection
There are different types of eye protection to protect the wearer from specific exposures. These protective eye equipment serve different purposes for work, but all act to reduce exposure to the eye.
Safety glasses are considered low-level protection gear against respiratory droplets, mainly due to the gaps between skin and the glasses. This can be aided by adding side shields to the glasses, making them virtually wrapped around the equipment.
Goggles, unlike safety glasses, have a complete seal to protect the eyes. They are generally thicker and may include ventilation which decreases fogging. They are most recommended for health providers interacting with SARS-COV-2 patients and are always exposed.
“Face shields protect the entire face from droplet sprays, splashes, or stray particles. They do not give enough protection on their own, so they must be paired with safety glasses or goggles for maximal protection. This is recommended for those who are in moderate Coronavirus transmission areas.” ensures Mr Chiu from The Kare Lab, a medical personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturer.
There have been specific instructions for essential workers to wear eye protection, but none have been made for the public. Wearing any form of defensive gear for the eyes while also donning a mask increases one’s physical defences against the virus.
Why Eye Protection Equipment are Important
Our eyes are exposed to many things that can harm them, not just in workplace settings. They are the same as our skin; they are exposed every day to pathogens that could cause harm, either from micro-organisms or accidents.
Exposed parts of the body, just like the skin, nose, mouth, and eyes, can be vulnerable to any harmful accident. A slash on the skin causes a wound; inhaling toxic fumes or ingesting chemicals is near deadly. This is no different to the eyes, where any flying object may land right onto the eye.
Viruses, bacteria, and dust particles cannot be seen by the naked eye, making it harder to fight off. Wearing protective eye equipment greatly reduces the off chance of getting eye injuries or infections. These injuries and infections may lead to life-long problems like permanent vision damage, decreasing quality of life.
What is the Risk of Covid-19 Transmission Through the Eyes?
The eyes are not the main source of concern for COVID-19, but it is a possible surface for the virus to reside in and possibly infect the person.
There is normal microbiota resting on the exposed surfaces of the eyeball and part of the inner eyelid, which is most known as the conjunctiva. Viruses like COVID-19 may reside on these exposed surfaces. When the person is immunocompromised, this normal microbiota becomes opportunistic and may cause infections like conjunctivitis or something worse.
Your eyes have ducts where your tears come from the nasolacrimal duct or better known as the tear duct, and can be a passageway for the virus to enter inside your body. By touching or rubbing your eyes, you introduce the virus in your hands to your eyes, maybe even push it into the lacrimal opening when you harshly rub.
How to Prevent Catching Covid-19 Through the Eyes
Aside from keeping 6 feet distance and wearing face masks for protection against the disease, one can also practice the use of eye protection like goggles or face shields.
This can prevent any lingering virus in the air from settling into your eyes and for you to refrain from touching your eyes. Your hands are always dirty from touching unclean surfaces. Those surfaces may even contain the virus itself if they are not regularly sanitised. The Coronavirus is spread by respiratory droplets that can land on these surfaces and stay for an indefinite time.
When removing the eyewear, hold it only by the parts that secure it to the head. Avoid touching it on areas that could be sprayed by droplets. Clean and disinfect it according to the instructions set by the manufacturer for reuse.
We must always practise safety and precaution, especially in trying times like a pandemic. Many things could cause harm, not just the Coronavirus. By wearing a face mask, eye protectors, and keeping distance can greatly reduce that possibility.