This Accessory You Already Have at Home Could Protect You From COVID

Experts say this could be used as extra protection against the coronavirus.

As the coronavirus death toll reaches new highs in the United States, it seems that every possible measure of COVID protection is something worth considering. But if you're already wearing masks and social distancing, what else can you do? As it turns out, you may not be utilizing one accessory that can be easily obtained in the winter: snow goggles. According to experts, snow goggles actually have some ability to protect you from COVID. Keep reading to find out how this accessory can help, and for more winter coronavirus protection, If You Don't Have This in Your Home, You're at Higher Risk for COVID.

"Snow goggles can theoretically protect you because coronavirus can enter through the mucous membranes of the eyes," explains Abisola Olulade, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician. "If someone coughs or sneezes and it comes into contact with your eyes, this could lead to COVID. If someone touches a surface that has coronavirus and then touches their eyes, this could potentially cause infection of the membranes of the eye."

According to Olulade, the coronavirus has been found in tears and other conjunctival secretions, which means the virus could be carried down into the tear ducts and then into the nasopharynx and the lungs. The most recent study outlining the probability of COVID transmission through the eyes is an August meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. 

In their review, researchers pointed directly to a study that found the main risk factor among a group of medical staff members who were infected to be the lack of protective goggles. According to the study, only 1 percent of those wearing eye protection were infected with COVID, compared to 8 percent of those who were not wearing eye protection.

"Although it seems that the likelihood of the ocular surface being an infection gateway is low, SARS-CoV-2 infection or transmission via the ocular surface may cause conjunctivitis and other ocular discomfort. Therefore, good eye protection is an essential safeguard procedure," the August review stated.

Seamus Flynn, an optometrist and owner of eyewear brand Sapphire Eyewear, says that eye protection is important because COVID particles are transmitted in aerosol droplets, with can land in the eye. But even the largest of droplets can be stopped by just a pair of regular glasses.

At the same time, Flynn says goggles may be the best form of protection, as they grip to your face. This helps block out the smaller aerosol particles, which can get through even the tiniest of gaps. Having goggles with a tight fit that "preferably creates a seal" can help protect you at any turn, he says.

And it's not that out of the ordinary for people to turn to snow goggles as a way to slow viral spread. In fact, this is what some doctors did in March when personal protective equipment (PPE) was lacking. Olulade says that while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does recommend the use of goggles for healthcare workers, there is not yet a specific recommendation for the general population. However, she says snow goggles can certainly be used as an additional layer of protection, "if cleaned and worn properly."

"They may offer an additional layer of protection, but goggles should never be used in place of or as a substitute for masks because masks protect against the main way in which coronavirus spreads," Olulade warns. "In theory, they can offer more protection, but cannot be relied on as a standalone protective agent."

Whether or not you get infected with the coronavirus through ocular transmission, your eyes can offer signs that you're infected. A study published in the BMJ Open Ophthalmology journal on Nov. 30 found that 81 percent of COVID patients reported eye symptoms within two weeks of other coronavirus symptoms. To find out what eye issues could be coronavirus signs, keep reading, and for more symptoms to be aware of, This Is How to Tell If Your Headache Is COVID, Study Says.

Sore eyes

Woman rubbing eyes because of vision problems

Patients experiencing this before COVID: 5 percent

Patients experiencing this during COVID: 16 percent

And for more subtle coronavirus symptoms, These 4 Easy-To-Miss Symptoms Could Mean You Have COVID, Experts Say.

Itchy eyes

young woman rubbing her eye and holding eyeglasses. She is suffering with aching eyes while working long hours on computer at home.

Patients experiencing this before COVID: 14 percent

Patients experiencing this during COVID: 17 percent

Photophobia (light sensitivity)

Man with dry tired eyes

Patients experiencing this before COVID: 13 percent

Patients experiencing this during COVID: 18 percent

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Watery eyes

older man rubbing his eyes on the couch

Patients experiencing this before COVID: 7 percent

Patients experiencing this during COVID: 12 percent

Mucous discharge

Tired student learning at home. She is rubbing her eyes.

Patients experiencing this before COVID: 2 percent

Patients experiencing this during COVID: 4 percent

And for more unusual coronavirus symptoms, This Is How to Tell If Your Back Pain Is COVID, Doctors Say.

Gritty eyes

Young woman uses eye drops for eye treatment. Redness, Dry Eyes, Allergy and Eye Itching

Patients experiencing this before COVID: 4 percent

Patients experiencing this during COVID: 5 percent

Foreign body sensation

Young man doing home eye exam in the bathroom

Patients experiencing this before COVID: 2 percent

Patients experiencing this during COVID: 5 percent

And if you're traveling this winter, discover The 4 Things You Shouldn't Do at a Hotel During COVID, Doctor Warns.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
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