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Face masks are the norm for most people right now, but the country’s top infectious disease experts are recommending another line of defense: Eye goggles.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an interview with ABC News last week that it’s crucial to cover your mucous membranes, which include your eyes, mouth, and nose, when you’re around people who aren’t in your household. “Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces,” he said. “So if you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it.”
Fauci isn’t recommending that goggles be a person’s only line of defense against COVID-19—instead, he says, it can help, along with other methods. "It's not universally recommended, but if you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can,” he said.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t mention goggles as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Instead, the CDC recommends that people wash their hands often, try to avoid close contact with people outside their home, and wear a face mask in public and around people outside their household.
But research has found eye protection like goggles can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal The Lancet in June found that eye protection can help prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. That study found that the rates of transmission lowered from 16% in people who didn’t wear eye protection to 5.5% in people who did.
Infectious disease experts agree that goggles could be helpful. “Anything that protects your eyes from getting from droplets that might contain the virus would be helpful,” Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Life. “It’s more to serve as a physical barrier.” Hospital staff often wear safety glasses or face shields to help protect their eyes when working, Adalja says, adding, “it’s the same concept.”
But the term “goggles” is a little confusing, especially since it’s usually used to refer to eyewear you use when swimming. “It means laboratory-style goggles,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life. Regular eye glasses are “not sufficient” to protect the eyes from infectious particles, he says: “There’s just too much room around them.” But lab-style goggles and safety glasses are larger, tend to wrap around the eyes more, and “provide very good protection around the eyes,” Schaffner says. They’re also fairly inexpensive, making it easy for most people to grab a pair.
Overall, experts say we might see more of this in the future. “Wearing goggles might become the norm,” Schaffner says.
Interested in buying a pair? Here are a few to check out.
These safety goggles have a lot going for them. They’re designed to fit over prescription glasses, making it easy to double up on eyewear. They also have a seal and vents on the side to help keep liquid and droplets out of your eyes. Anti-fog and anti-scratch lenses help keep your vision clear. A soft frame helps these goggles comfortably fit snuggly against your face.
Wearing goggles for longer periods of time can hurt the bridge of your nose, but these safety glasses are specifically designed with extra padding around the area for comfort. The polycarbonate lenses fit over most prescription glasses, and a louver ventilation design helps keep droplets out. The glasses are anti-fog and anti-scratch to help you see well, no matter how often you wear them.
Planning to wear your goggles mostly at night? These are an option worth looking into. The wraparound shades easily fit over prescription glasses to help reduce glare at night. They also offer an oversized physical barrier from the front and sides to protect your eyes from respiratory droplets.
These wide goggles are made for long-term use thanks to their soft frame and anti-scratch lenses. The goggles can be worn over prescription glasses and have a wide adjustable band to allow you to find the fit that’s perfect for you. Wide, splash-proof sides help ensure that your eyes will be protected.
Incredibly lightweight, these goggles weigh less than your standard prescription glasses. The frame gently hugs your face for a secure fit, while anti-fog, anti-scratch lenses help you see clearly. A nice feature: The lenses are shatterproof, just in case you happen to drop them.
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