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Do We Really Need To Wear Goggles To Prevent COVID19?

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At this point, there is no firm recommendation that the general public needs to wear goggles or a face shield to protect themselves against COVID, but we suspect that likely it could help prevent some transmission. That said, eye protection should only ever be used in addition to a face mask and not in place of, as we know for a fact that masking prevents spread. This question arose recently as Dr. Fauci mentioned in a news segment that “theoretically you should protect all of the mucosal surfaces, so if you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it.” While research generally indicates that we’re most likely to get infected through the nose and mouth, in one recent report published in The Lancet that analyzed 172 observational studies, face shields, goggles, and glasses were associated with a lower risk of infection (6%) compared with no eye covering (16%). To date, there are no specific studies comparing transmission rates with or without goggles/facemasks, but in due time, those studies will probably be done. Based on the information currently available, the CDC does recommend that healthcare professionals in areas with high rates of community spread wear protective eyewear if they might come into contact with COVID-19 patients or those suspected to have it.


At this time, we suggest that if you have to be around others indoors for a prolonged period of time (greater than 15 minutes) such as on an airplane, it might not be a bad idea to protect your eyes. Regular eye glasses or sunglasses are not considered to add protection, but rather you will need something like safety glasses or a plastic face shield that can easily be sanitized after use. Importantly, if you opt to wear goggles or a face shield, make sure that it is comfortable and does not require you to frequently adjust it as you want to avoid unnecessarily touching your face.  Otherwise, wear a mask, avoid crowded places, wash your hands or sanitize frequently and avoid touching your eyes and remember that public safety recommendations will likely continue to evolve as we learn more about Coronavirus every day.

(Jackie Phillips, MD,  August 3, 2020)

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