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Can you get COVID-19 through your eyes?

We have all seen the photographs of health professionals facing the coronavirus pandemic, covered from head to toe in special suits. A few days ago, the doctor Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), suggested that if someone has glasses or eye shields, it is best that you use them.

But Can you get COVID-19 through your eyes? It is true that SARS-CoV-2 enters the body through the mucous membranes, which are present in the mouth, nose and eyes as well. So yes, if the virus is in the air it can get into the eyes, but that is less likely compared to the nose or mouth.

The doctor Thomas Steinemann, Clinical Spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmologyexplained to CNN that if the coronavirus infection through the eyes were numerous, doctors would observe more cases of conjunctivitis in the units that care for patients with COVID-19.

Also, to cause disease through the eyes, the virus would have to make contact through the eyeballs, reach the nose through tears and, from the nose, travel to the mouth and throat and subsequently to the lungs. “It is quite a tortuous route,” said the expert.

Dr. Fauci referred to covering the eyes to protect all areas of the face with mucous membranes, but Dr. Steinemann specifies that this measure recommended for those who cannot reliably practice social distancing or for those who spend a lot of time in places where the air may be polluted with coronavirus; for example, health workers or caregivers of someone who is sick. However, people who leave home only for the essentials, can protect themselves with a good mask and maintaining social distance.

Human eyes already have natural protection “quite good, like our eyelids and the blink reflex ”, explained the specialist.