Skip to main content

Association of Daily Wear of Eyeglasses With Susceptibility to Coronavirus Disease 2019 Infection

Our take —

In one Chinese hospital, the proportion of COVID-19 patients who wore eyeglasses was considerably lower than a historical estimate for the prevalence of myopia in another Chinese province. The authors speculate that eyeglasses may provide some protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection, either via direct blocking of infected droplets or by discouraging eye-touching. However suggestive these results may be, the evidence presented here is too thin to provide much support for this hypothesis. Larger studies with better assessment of eyeglass wearing and its association with SARS-CoV-2 incidence in the general population are needed.

Study design

Case Series

Study population and setting

This study included all patients admitted to a single hospital in Suizhou, China, with a laboratory-confirmed or clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 from January 27 to March 13, 2020 (n=276, 56% male, median age 51 years). Data about wearing eyeglasses were collected at admission; patients were asked about the reasons for wearing glasses, the daily duration of eyeglass wearing, and the use of contact lenses. The authors defined “long-term wearers” as patients reporting wearing glasses >8 hours per day. The proportion of long-term wearers due to myopia (i.e., nearsightedness) in the patient population was compared to the estimated prevalence of myopia among students in Hubei Province, China, in 1985.

Summary of Main Findings

Thirty (10.9%) patients wore eyeglasses, 16 (5.8%) of whom reported wearing them for myopia. All 16 myopic patients reported use for longer than 8 hours per day. Among these 16 patients, the median age was 33 years, and clinical symptoms and severity were similar to those of the broader study population. In Hubei Province, China in 1985, students aged 7-22 years had an estimated myopia prevalence of 31.5%.

Study Strengths

Patients were directly asked about eyeglass-wearing behavior (beginning February 7, 2020).

Limitations

This was a single-site study with a small sample size. The proxy for population myopia prevalence was derived from a different province, in a different age group, from 1985. The methods for ascertaining eyeglass wearing were not clearly described; although eyeglass wearers were asked about their behavior, it is not clear if they were initially classified based on observation, or if all enrolled patients were interviewed about eyeglass wearing. Interviews at admission began nine days after study inception; it is not clear how earlier enrollees were classified. The study did not attempt to identify other determinants of COVID-19 that may have been associated with eyeglass wearing behavior.

Value added

This suggestive, preliminary study is the first to date that directly addresses whether eyeglasses may provide some protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

This review was posted on: 3 October 2020