Can face and eye shields protect you from coronavirus?

Can face and eye shields protect you from coronavirus?

Dr. Fauci suggested wearing of eye shields for additional protection, says people should use it if they “want to be complete.”

To help mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2, Dr. Anthony Fauci recommended the use of eye shields or goggles to cover the eyes. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said that “theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces.”

Face and eye shields as extra protection

During his talk with ABC News’ health correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton on Wednesday, July 29, Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that eye coverings are not “universally recommended.” The Centers for Disease and Control Prevention only recommends it to healthcare workers.

Still, the director argued that it would be wise to use eye shields as an extra layer of protection.

“It is not universally recommended, but if you want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can,” the director of NIAID told ABC News.

The coronavirus, which spreads through respiratory droplets, infects a person by contaminating any mucous membrane. The event, however, only happens when these respiratory droplets produced when speaking, coughing, and sneezing, enter the nose, mouth, and eyes.

The World Health Organization last month acknowledged the possibility of airborne transmission of coronavirus. In that case, where microdroplets are said to hang in the air for hours and even days, face and eye shields can halt the virus from touching the eyes when entering contaminated spaces.

CDC: eye covering is not an alternative to face mask

The CDC, on the one hand, warned that face and eye shields are not substitutes to face mask. According to the organization, there is no scientific proof that eye coverings can prevent virus transmission or that it provides “any benefit as source control to protect others.”

Dr. Allison McGeer of Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto also shares the same view. As per the microbiologist and infectious disease expert, there are no studies that say face shields and eye coverings are effective.

On the flip side, a review published by The Lancet suggests that face and eye shields may help reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The review is composed of 172 observational studies from various countries. And based on it, the likelihood of getting infected is 78% less with the use of an eye shield.

As seen in the review, the researchers wrote:

“Eye protection is typically under-considered and can be effective in community settings. However, no intervention, even when properly used, was associated with complete protection from infection.”

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx also suggested the use of face shields. She said that using eye protection can prevent people from touching their eyes as well as respiratory droplets.

“The thing about the face shields — we think that that could protect the individuals,” she said.

Featured image courtesy of Ian Panelo/Pexels

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