Coronavirus outbreaks have taken hold across the globe. There are now 596 confirmed cases in the UK, which was up from 456 on Wednesday, and the total number of UK deaths is now 10. COVID-19, as the strain of coronavirus has been named, is a new illness, so experts are still trying to determine exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.
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But similar viruses are spread in cough droplets, suggesting it can be spread through the eyes, hands and mouth.
When it comes to the virus spreading through the eyes, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) explains: “When a sick person coughs or talks, virus particles can spray from their mouth or nose into another person’s face.
“You’re most likely to inhale these droplets through your mouth or nose, but they can also enter through your eyes.”
It adds: “People who have coronavirus can also spread the illness through their tears.
“Touching tears or a surface where tears have landed can be another portal to infection.
“You can also become infected by touching something that has the virus on it – like a table or doorknob – and then touching your eyes.”
People have been seen wearing face masks to prevent the virus spreading via their mouth, and gloves to prevent the virus spreading via their hands.
While experts have offered advice for effective these apparatus really are, can wearing glasses help protect your eyes from coronavirus?
Professor Stephen Turner of Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University says glasses alone will not offer protection.
He told Express.co.uk: “The spread of the virus appears to require close contact.
“The most likely way of contracting the virus is via picking up the virus off surfaces and then touching eyes, nose and mouth.
“Given glasses only cover the eyes, it is possible to still take up the virus via the nose/mouth so I would say glasses might not do the trick.”
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The AAO however says corrective lenses or sunglasses can shield eyes from infected respiratory droplets, but adds they don’t provide 100 percent security.
It advises: “The virus can still reach your eyes from the exposed sides, tops and bottoms of your glasses.
“If you’re caring for a sick patient or potentially exposed person, safety goggles may offer a stronger defence.”
Robyn Gershon, an epidemiology professor at New York University’s School of Global Public Health, has also suggested glasses may offer a layer of protection.
She told the New York Post with glasses “large splatters or droplets cannot go directly in my eye”.
Gershon added it’s common in health care settings to wear protective eye wear “when we have a risk of droplet exposure”, so why not now?
The NHS isn’t recommending wearing glasses, gloves or face masks.
Instead, it recommends people wash their hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds, to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus.
The health body adds:
- Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
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