The One Body Part You're Not Protecting From Coronavirus—But Should Be

Protecting your eyes could lower your risk of contracting COVID-19.

Over the past few months, you've been told to wear a mask to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus through your mouth or nose. You may even be wearing gloves in public to avoid picking up the virus on surfaces you come in contact with. However, there is a key body part you have likely been neglecting, and doing so could put you at risk of contracting COVID-19. Here's why you should be protecting your eyes from coronavirus.

A June study in The Lancet suggests that wearing eye protection may be the next important step in slowing the spread of the coronavirus. The study found that "eye protection was associated with less infection." According to the report, these findings are supported by "a systematic review of 172 observational studies in health-care and non-health-care settings across 16 countries and six continents."

Since we know that the coronavirus can spread through your eyes, as reported in a May study out of Johns Hopkins University, it follows that protecting your eyes is just as important as shielding your nose and mouth. The study explains that if a person with COVID-19 coughs or sneezes near you, the viral droplets could land in or near your eye and enter your body, infiltrating your cells once inside. Shielding your eyes from these particles while you're out in public could limit your chances of contracting the virus.

Face mask covering eyes

For the best eye protection, the study in The Lancet suggests wearing visors, face shields, goggles, or even big glasses. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, while "corrective lenses or sunglasses can shield your eyes from infected respiratory droplets," they warn that "the virus can still reach your eyes from the exposed sides, tops, and bottoms of your glasses."

If you do begin wearing eye protection, it's important to remember to disinfect your protective wear as often as you would a mask. Whatever item you choose to protect you will be in close proximity to your eyes: If you don't take proper care of the eyewear, you could put yourself at risk of contracting the coronavirus or other infections.

And for more on how to protect your eyes, read our article: Do Face Shields Keep You Safer Than Face Masks?

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