Is Eye Protection Necessary for COVID-19 Protection?
Recent discussions about the possibility of contracting the virus through our eyes are beginning to buzz. Scientists are still studying the virus for the answer, but here’s what experts have to say about the likelihood of eye-contraction and if goggles are necessary.
After virologist and epidemiologist Dr. Joseph Fair recently got ill with COVID-19, he believes he contracted it through his eyes. Fair told NBC that he had been on a crowded flight two weeks earlier, and though he wore a mask and gloves and wiped down his seat, he didn’t have any protection over his eyes.
“You can still get this virus through your eyes, and epidemiologically, it’s the best guess I have of probably how I got it,” Fair said. He said his symptoms started three or four days later, though his four tests for the virus were negative.”
But is this true? Was this a fluke situation? How possible is it to contract the virus through your eyes? Should we be wearing goggles, too? One NPR article notes that the idea that you can contract a virus through your eyes is not new, but it has not been as talked about as other risks of infection through the nose and mouth.
What does the CDC have to say? Well, the CDC says that the nose and mouth are the main avenues by which someone catches the virus, but “it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.”
Dr. Abraar Karan, a physician at Harvard Medical School, explains why. “Any sort of open mucosa [mucous membrane] is a chance for a droplet to land there and get into your body,” she said. But while it’s known that the virus can be transmitted through the eyes, “it’s hard to quantify exactly what the risk is in terms [of] through the eye specifically.”