Dr. Anthony Fauci is the top infectious disease expert in the United States. While the pandemic is always evolving, Fauci is now saying that eye protection could possibly help prevent the spread of coronavirus. While speaking to ABC News medical correspondent Jennifer Ashton on Wednesday, Fauci was asked about whether covering the eyes could help protect from Covid-19. He replied, "You know, it might," then adding that it would at least offer extra protection, which is never a bad thing.
"You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye," Fauci explained. "Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces." He went on to say citizens who have protective gear or shields for the eyes should wear them, even though it is "not universally recommended," as it can't hurt to be "complete" with your protection against coronavirus. Fauci clarified that the main reason eye protection has not been more widely recommended is due to the fact that "It’s just that it’s so easy for people to make a cloth mask."
Dr. Anthony Fauci to @DrJAshton: "If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it. It's not universally recommended, but if you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can." https://t.co/SJPZn8fN6F pic.twitter.com/Ml87aBuclI— ABC News (@ABC) July 29, 2020
The potentiality for contracting the coronavirus through the eyes was discussed back in May, after Dr. Joseph Fair — a virologist who is also a contributor for NBC News — stated that he believes this was how he was infected with it. Fair was on a flight from New York to New Orleans, and said that he'd taken "max precautions," with the only exposure being his eyes. NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres commented on the chances of COVID-19 transmitting through the eyes, and stated that there was no concrete data on this, at the time.
"It usually happens because of contact," Torres told the Today show. "You touch something, and you rub your eye and you get it in that way." He also explained that coronavirus can linger in the air after someone who has it sneezes or coughs, clarifying that while the virus can then easily infect through the nose or mouth of another individual, this "isn't a concern" with eyes. Interestingly, much like Fauci, Torres did suggest wearing glasses or goggles "if you're in an area where you can't (practice) social distancing" or "if you're around people ... coughing or sneezing a lot."