Including how your eyes can be a gateway for COVID-19.

By Kylie Gilbert
Aug 11, 2020 @ 11:40 am
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While masks are the gold standard for coronavirus prevention, there are other protective accessories out there with a small but loyal following, too: Gloves, plastic face shields, and now, goggles.

Though googles are not currently recommended by the CDC, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, recently told ABC News that Americans should consider wearing goggles or a face shield in order to prevent spreading or catching COVID-19. "If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it,” he said during the Instagram Live.

So, if you don’t have a spare pair of goggles laying around… should you go out and buy them?

Well, let's look at how coronavirus is spread. “The research points strongly that the main way you’re likely to catch the COVID-19 virus is from breathing in through your nose and mouth infected respiratory droplets spewed out by someone speaking, coughing or sneezing near you,” explains Arefa Cassoobhoy, M.D., MPH, Senior Medical Director at WebMD. “Having said that, the eyes have a mucosal lining like your nose and mouth that could transmit the virus. This might occur directly from another person’s infected respiratory droplets landing in your eyes, or it could occur indirectly if you touch your eye with a finger contaminated with the virus.”

This is one of the reasons why docs got behind plastic face shields: A recent research analysis showed they might protect you from catching COVID-19 through your eyes. That research also included goggles, which is why Dr. Cassoobhoy says both are equally solid options.

Even if they don't become an everyday accessory, “You may want to consider goggles in higher-risk situations where you have to be in close proximity with people,” Dr. Cassoobhoy adds. If you’re older or have a medical condition that puts you at higher risk for a severe COVID-19 illness, you should consider wearing eye protection along with your mask (in addition to maximizing all social distancing measures), she suggests. 

So, how to choose the right goggles (or face shield) while perusing options online? Make sure it covers the front and sides of your face. “Check that it does not interfere with the positioning or fit of your face mask. And remember to consider comfort: You want to be able to complete your outing without having to touch or adjust your eyewear or face mask.” 

Before clicking add to cart, read online reviews about the product’s wear and tear and be sure to check the cleaning protocol — most will say to wipe down with a disinfectant or to wash with soap and water, which can also keep your goggles from fogging up, she adds. 

The bottom line on wearing goggles for COVID-19 is, at this point, a personal choice (the CDC currently recommends health care providers wear eye protection where community transmission is moderate to high), however, according to Dr. Fauci, it's possible we will get to a point where eye protection is recommended. In the meantime, he suggests wearing goggles "if you really want perfect protection of the mucosal surfaces."

“The current CDC recommendations for physical distancing, face masks, and handwashing greatly reduce the chance of the virus infecting you, but it’s not 100% effective,” Dr. Cassoobhoy says. “That’s why eye protection could be important as another layer of protection for you.”