University College London (UCL) Study Reveals That Eyewear Significantly Helps Reduce Risk Of COVID-19 Infection
A new study conducted by researchers from University College London (UCL)-UK as part of the Virus Watch prospective community cohort study in England and Wales, has found that eyewear significantly helps reduce risk of COVID-19 infection.
Thailand Medical News
had reported as early as February 2020 that the coronavirus could also spread and cause infections via the human eyes. https://www.thailandmedical.news/news/breaking-news:-new-report-in-lancet-confirms-that-coronavirus-can-spread-through-eyes
It is already known that respiratory viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, can infect the eyes or pass into the nose via the nasolacrimal duct. The importance of transmission via the eyes is unknown but might plausibly be reduced in those who wear glasses. Most past studies have mainly focused on protective eyewear in healthcare settings. https://www.thailandmedical.news/news/virus-research-shows-that-mask-alone-not-sufficient-as-protective-goggles-also-required-by-healthcare-staff-and-others-to-prevent-contracting-sars-cov
Despite the fact that eyewear or protective goggles can help prevent SARS-CoV-2 infections, very few health authorities and countries have urged eye protection to limit public transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Participants from the Virus Watch prospective community cohort study in England and Wales responded to a questionnaire on the use of glasses and contact lenses. This included frequency of use, purpose, and likelihood of wearing a mask with glasses. Infection was confirmed through data linkage with Second Generation Surveillance System (Pillar 1 and Pillar 2), weekly questionnaires to self-report positive polymerase chain reaction or lateral flow results, and, for a subgroup, monthly capillary blood testing for antibodies (nucleocapsid and spike). A multivariable logistic regression model, controlling for age, sex, income and occupation, was used to identify odds of infection depending on the frequency and purpose of using glasses or contact lenses.
A total of 19,166 Virus Watch participants responded to the questionnaire, with 13,681 (71.3%, CI 70.7-72.0) reporting they wore glasses.
The study findings based on a multivariable logistic regression model showed 15% lower odds of infection for those who reported using glasses always for general use (OR 0.85, 95% 0.77-0.95, p = 0.002) compared to those who never wore glasses.
The protective effect was reduced in those who said that wearing glasses interfered with mask wearing. No protective effect was seen for contact lens wearers.
The study findings indicated that individuals who wear glasses have a moderate reduction in risk of COVID-19 infection highlighting the importance of the eye as a route of infection. Eye protection may make a valuable contribution to the reduction of transmission in community and healthcare settings.
The study team told Thailand Medical News
p;ldquo;The findings of this study demonstrate a moderate reduction in risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in those who always wear glasses compared to never. Unlike other studies, our results are representative of a community setting, adjust for potential confounders and provide a counterfactual analysis with contact lenses. This extends the current evidence to community settings and validates proposed biological mechanisms of eye protection reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.”
The study findings were published on a preprint server and are currently being peer reviewed. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.03.29.22272997v1
It should be noted that past reports have primarily focused on the impact of protective eyewear in hospital settings against SARS-CoV-2 infection and indicated that eye protection might prevent COVID-19. However, no investigations have assessed the possible preventive benefit of wearing spectacles for vision correction in the community setting against COVID-19.
The study team hypothesized and evaluated the use of spectacles in a community context for minimizing the likelihood of COVID-19. The hypothesis was based on previous investigations of protective eyewear against COVID-19 in healthcare settings and biological mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 transmission via the eye.
The study team collected the subjects' responses from the Virus Watch prospective community cohort investigation in Wales and England to a survey on the usage of contact lenses and spectacles.
From a total of about 58,670 volunteers of the Virus Watch cohort, the study team invited 31,749 participants to answer the monthly survey about contact lenses and spectacle use, and 19,166 responded to this questionnaire. The questionnaire covered topics including purpose, frequency of use, and probability of using a face mask with spectacles.
SARS-CoV-2 infection was confirmed via self-reported positive lateral flow assays, or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) results in weekly surveys and data connection with Second Generation Surveillance System (Pillar 2 and Pillar 1). Additionally, in a subset of 11701 participants, SARS-CoV-2 infection was confirmed through monthly capillary blood investigation for SARS-CoV-2 spike (S) and nucleocapsid (N) proteins.
A unique multivariate logistic regression model was utilized to determine the probabilities of SARS-CoV-2 infection based on the purpose and frequency of wearing contact lenses or spectacles, adjusting for age, gender, occupation, and income.
The research findings study showed that the median age of the subjects was 63 years, and 54.6% of them were females. Of the 19,166 Virus Watch subjects who answered the present survey, 13,681 stated they used spectacles.
In all, out of the 19,166 Virus Watch volunteers, 19.6% demonstrated evidence of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. Among these subjects, 19.6% and 19.9% were males and females, respectively, indicating an absence of variation in SARS-CoV-2 infection among the two genders.
Although 22.99% of individuals who never wore spectacles for general use had COVID-19, only 15.63% of those who constantly wore spectacles for regular use were SARS-CoV-2-infected.
The study findings surprisingly showed a 15% lower chance of COVID-19 for individuals who reported wearing spectacles constantly for general usage than people who had never worn spectacles. A similar observation was found in those using spectacles always for reading and other particular activities.
The study team did not find any correlation between occasionally wearing spectacles and COVID-19 protection.
Also, a decreased protective impact of spectacles against COVID-19 was observed in those reporting an interference by spectacles for wearing a face mask. This interference of spectacles in mask usage was due to the steaming up of spectacles while wearing a mask. Notably, contact lens wearers did not show any protective impact against SARS-CoV-2 infection. This was the case for different frequencies of contact lens usage.
The research findings demonstrated that individuals who use spectacles had a lower chance of SARS-CoV-2 infection than non-spectacle users. However, the protective effect against COVID-19 was not observed in contact lens users. In addition, a reduction in the protective effect of spectacles against SARS-CoV-2 infection was identified in those who mentioned interference of spectacles with their face mask use.
The findings of the present study were representative of the community context, unlike most of the existing investigations on the topic. Moreover, data derived from the present study was controlled for probable confounders and offered a counterfactual assessment with contact lenses.
On the whole, the present research indicates the relevance of the eye as a portal for SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The study team found a moderate decline in the chance of COVID-19 in individuals who wore spectacles. This research extrapolated the existing evidence of the SARS-CoV-2 infection through the eyes in the hospital setting to a community context. The study results also confirmed the hypothesized biological pathways of eye protection in lowering the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission. The study findings indicated that using protective eyewear might reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in both healthcare and community settings.
For more on Eyewear And SARS-CoV-2 Infections, keep on logging to Thailand Medical News