In one hospital in Suizhou, China, 276 patients were admitted over a 47 day period, but only 16 patients — less than 6 percent — had myopia or nearsightedness that required them to wear glasses for more than eight hours a day. By comparison, more than 30 percent of similarly aged people in the region needed glasses for nearsightedness, earlier research had shown.

Given that the rate of nearsightedness appeared to be so much higher in the general population than in the Covid ward, the scientists wondered: Could wearing glasses protect a person from becoming infected with coronavirus?

“Wearing of eyeglasses is common among Chinese individuals of all ages,” wrote the study authors. “However, since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Wuhan in December 2019, we observed that few patients with eyeglasses were admitted in the hospital ward.”…

It may be that eyeglasses act as a partial barrier, protecting eyes from the splatter of a cough or sneeze. Another explanation for the finding could be that people who wear glasses are less likely to rub their eyes with contaminated hands.