“In the eyes, you’d probably have quite a lot of dilution effect so I can’t imagine it would be nearly as effective a route of transmission as inhalation. With inhalation it goes directly onto the target.”
Dr Kgaogelo Legodi, chair of the specialists’ group at the South African Medical Association, said the logic behind the Lancet paper is “fair”.
“We are dealing with Covid, which is a viral disease,” he said.
Although there is currently no available data on how many people might have been infected via ocular transmission, Legodi follows strict protocols when examining patients.
“I wear a face mask and there is also a screen between me and the patient,” he said.
Legodi said wearing spectacles, sunglasses or a visor would certainly offer the wearer some protection from Covid-19.
Emergency workers such as paramedics have long used eye protection in their work, and not only to guard against contracting TB and Covid-19, said Netcare 911 spokesperson Shawn Herbst.
“There is a lot of stuff like traumatic cases where the patient might be HIV-positive. Hepatitis is another problem that worries us,” he said.
Paramedics generally wear safety goggles when dealing with patients, but the pandemic has made people much more cautious, he said.
Many medics — especially those doing resuscitations — wear “spoggles”, which are plastic safety glasses that form a seal and are held on by a head strap. But they tend to steam up.
“When you’re working with needles and drips, it becomes a problem if you can’t see what you’re doing — you pose a risk to yourself and to the patient,” said Herbst.