The short answer is “No”.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology has no recommendation for the use of eyewear in normal activities in the community or in clinical settings. There are no conclusive scientific studies that state eyewear is protective against COVID infections.
A recent study analyzing nearly 900 articles showed no scientific evidence that eye protection is needed to prevent COVID infections. (The Effect of Eye Protection on SARS-CoV2 Transmission: A Systematic Review. Byambursuren, et al. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control 2021). The study concludes: “Robust comparative trials are needed to clearly determine effectiveness of eye protections and wearability issues in both healthcare workers and general populations.”
Healthcare workers in areas with a high risk of secretion splatter into the eyes, such as respiratory therapists or ICU personnel, may benefit from eye protection. However, the eye protection used should not interfere with the safety of delivering care to patients. It’s critical for doctors and nurses to be able to see clearly while performing procedures.
What About COVID Conjunctivitis?
The surface of the eye is a nearly impenetrable barrier to microorganisms. Eye infections that involve the surface of the eye are common in ophthalmology settings but to find a systemic spread from a normal eye infection is highly unlikely. In fact, in our clinical practice, we have never seen a documented case of COVID conjunctivitis. Not only is the spread systematically unlikely, but the volume of ophthalmic cases which are needed to create the spread is equally rare.
Unless one is in a setting of high and frequent risk of eye splatter involving infectious material into one’s eye, there is currently no compelling reason to use eye protection in a clinic or community setting.
At Claris Eye Surgery & LASIK, we provide a variety of services from general exams to corrective surgery. If you have any questions about our services or procedures, please call us today at 952-522-4900.