Eyeglasses could offer additional protection against transmission of coronavirus, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology.
Researchers found that of 276 patients admitted to a Wuhan, China hospital over 47 days, only 16 wore glasses.
The city was the original epicenter of the virus, which is believed to have originated in a so-called "wet market" there.
Researchers hypothesized glasses may reduce susceptibility to the virus by discouraging wearers from touching their faces or helping block transmission of the virus through the tear ducts.
"These findings suggest that the eye may be an important infection route for COVID-19, and more attention should be paid to preventive measures such as frequent hand washing and avoiding touching the eyes," the authors wrote.
The study authors acknowledge limitations of the study, such as the small sample size and single center.
They also noted that none of the subjects wore contact lenses, leaving them with no insight into contacts' effect on transmission on the virus.
"In addition, further studies are needed to clarify the reasons that wearing eyeglasses may decrease susceptibility to COVID-19," they wrote.
Although the study is the first to assess the impact of eyeglasses on transmission, Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, has similarly suggested eye protection could be effective.
"You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye," Fauci said in July.
"Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces.
" People who have "goggles or an eye shield .
should use it," he added.
"It's not universally recommended, but if you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can.