COVID-19 Risk from Viruses Entering Eyes

This post is not about something new threatening to engulf us, but a summary of what we now know. We review scientific reports and informed opinions regarding the COVID-19 risk from viruses entering eyes. Then we leave it to you to reach your decision, and act or not act as you feel inclined. Our story begins in May 2020 by when 100,000 Americans had died after 4 months.

Yes, There Is a COVID-19 Risk from Viruses Entering Eyes
On May 11, 2020 scientists from John Hopkins School of Medicine observed conjunctivitis in the eyes of patients with COVID-19. Now conjunctivitis AKA pink eye is inflammation of the white surface of the eye. And we do know it can spread through a virus. But was there a COVID-19 risk from viruses entering eyes?

The researchers decided to find out whether the ocular surface had the ACE2 receptors necessary for a SARS-CoV-2 infection. They found these in the conjunctiva, limbus, and especially the cornea. They concluded those ocular surfaces could therefore ‘serve as a portal of entry, as well as a reservoir for person-to-person transmission of this virus’.

Could This Risk be Lower For People Wearing Glasses?
Chinese scientists posted a report on Jama Network on September 16, 2020. Their work sought out an association between daily wear of glasses, and COVID-19. Live Science reports they processed information from 276 COVID-19 patients in Hubei Province. And that this suggested a COVID-19 risk from viruses entering eyes.

Intriguingly, only 5.8% of their subjects wore spectacles daily, compared to 31.5% in the local population. The researcher’s concluded the difference was down to glasses preventing wearers touching their eyes. And that these thereby kept the virus away from their conjunctival sacs, and tears.