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Nerd immunity! Study finds wearing glasses protects against COVID-19

Multiple studies show people who wear glasses at least eight hours a day catch COVID-19 less than those who don't wear glasses.

SAN DIEGO — If you wear glasses with a mask, you know the struggle to stop them from fogging up is real! But now there appears to be a big benefit to the frustrating fight. Multiple studies show people who wear glasses at least eight hours a day catch COVID-19 less than those who don't wear glasses.

“If something lands in your eye, it can go through a duct that goes down into your nose and that's how it might infect you,” says Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam of The New England Complex Systems Institute.

A study published this month in India looked at 304 COVID-19 patients. The author says about 40% of India's adult population wears glasses, but only 19% of the people infected with coronavirus wore glasses. The researchers concluded that "the risk of COVID-19 was about 2 to 3 times less in the spectacles wearing population than the population not wearing them."

“Probably one of the main pieces is that the air particles will get deposited on your glasses as well as you might not touch your eyes a little bit, but it's really important to know that this is in addition to wearing a mask,” Prof. Bar-Yam said, adding that these results mirror a previous study he saw from China.

While some jokingly call it “nerd immunity”, researchers want to make it clear that glasses are not a full-proof protection because there is space between the frames and your face. Prof. Bar-Yam agrees saying, “Of course, wearing goggles is even better than wearing glasses.”

Which leads to another warning: If COVID-19 particles are being blocked by your glasses, or other eye covering, you should assume that the virus could be on your glasses. “You should definitely - if you're wearing glasses or goggles - you should wash them with soap after you use them,” said Prof. Bar-Yam. “If you go into a place where you might be exposed to virus particles.”

And, of course, even with glasses and a mask - health experts warn you still need to wash your hands regularly and social distance.