How Ditching Contacts For Glasses Can Protect You From The Coronavirus

Medical experts -- and Anna Wintour -- make the case for wearing glasses to protect against COVID-19.

When Vogue shared a photo on Friday of Anna Wintour cuddled up on her couch and encouraging readers to stay home amid the coronavirus outbreak, she, perhaps unwittingly but unsurprisingly, set a welcomed example.

You might chuckle at the sight of Wintour continuing to wear her signature sunglasses even during self-isolation. But as it turns out, wearing glasses ― either sunglasses or the prescription variety ― may help prevent you from contracting COVID-19.

“Glasses can provide barrier protection against splashes or droplets, so in theory they could protect from SARS-CoV-2 exposure,” Lucy Wilson, a professor in the department of emergency health services at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, told HuffPost. “Mucous membranes, including in the eye area, are a common way the coronavirus can enter the body.”

Guidelines are already in place advising health care workers to wear protective eyewear like goggles, face shields and masks at work and when encountering potential exposure to COVID-19.

But there’s another reason to consider switching your contact lenses for glasses, even if you’re not a medical professional.

By now we’ve all been reminded ― and have reminded others ― to stop touching our faces already. Glasses promote social distancing from our own hands.

“Wearing glasses could help prevent people from touching their faces, especially their eyes,” Wilson said. But for some people, she added, “adjusting one’s glasses would increase the frequency of face touching.”

If you, like Wintour, don’t really need prescription lenses but want to take advantage of this helpful hint, Wilson said sunglasses would be “expected to have the same effect” as other forms of eyewear.

Just make sure you’re keeping them sanitized. “Glasses can be cleaned with soap and water,” Wilson said. “Just like washing hands after returning home, glasses could be washed.”

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