Wearing eyeglasses may lower your chances of contracting the coronavirus, according to a new study from Hubei Province, China. The findings appeared in JAMA Ophthalmology, a medical journal. But does this mean everyone should wear eye protection to prevent COVID-19? Not exactly, says ophthalmologist Thomas Steinemann, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and a professor of ophthalmology at MetroHealth Medical Center.

Experts say there’s not enough information to recommend that people start wearing eye protection in addition to masks.

“It’s a provocative and fascinating study. But in the scheme of things, this is a small portion of the population. We’d require a much larger study before making any conclusions about whether wearing glasses really does mean people are touching their eyes less often, and therefore decreasing infection rates,” Dr. Steinemann said.

Coronavirus can spread through the eyes when an infected person coughs or sneezes near your eye or if you touch an infected object before touching your eye.

A possible link between eyeglasses and the coronavirus

The study came from a curious observation made by researchers in China. They noticed that very few of their sick patients wore glasses, which was remarkable since nearsightedness is common in China. They examined hospital records from patients with Covid-19 to learn more. Of 276 patients admitted to the hospital over a 47-day period, only 16 patients (5.8%) had myopia or nearsightedness that required them to wear glasses for more than eight hours a day.

Earlier research shows that more than 30% of people in the region needed glasses for nearsightedness.

Learn more from the American Academy of Ophthalmology