2. Eye protection reduces virus infection, substantially.
Dr. Vincente Diaz: Ocular and infectious disease doctor at Yale Medical School
The face mask debate has overshadowed so much. It’s unfortunate because we all benefit from listening to what scientists already know, are currently researching and what educated assumptions they can make. Properly fitted face mask cover the mouth and nose, but leave the eyes exposed.
"Any sort of open mucosa [mucous membrane] is a chance for a droplet to land there and get into your body," says Dr. Abraar Karan from Harvard Medical School.
Eyes are a vulnerable pathway to virus’ and should be part of the safety conversation. Ocular inflammatory and infectious disease doctor at Yale Medical School, Dr. Vicente Diaz, says that studies have found that when eye protection was incorporated as a part of disease control strategy, it substantially reduced the rate of coronavirus infection.
"When it comes to the eyes, we've learned that they do seem to be involved," Diaz says. "Certainly the virus can get to the eye, and approximately 60% of people who present with COVID infection have been noted to have eye-redness as a presenting symptom."
It remains unclear if the eye-redness confirms that the Coronavirus pathogens were only introduced through the eyes or if the virus traveled through another pathway as well.
3. “The safest approach combines a mask and a face shield”
Dr. Michael Edmond: Infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa
Infectious disease specialist at the University of Iowa, Dr. Michael Edmond, said in August 2020 that face shields are good PPE option. He stated that while it's easy to wear a mask incorrectly by letting it slip below the nose, that’s not going to happen with a face shield. Furthermore, like Dr. Vincente Diaz of Yale Medical School, he specifically points to the capability for shields to protect eyes.
"If I'm going to the grocery store, where I don't anticipate that there are going to be people very close to me, I will typically wear a shield, unless the store says specifically I have to wear a mask," he says. "But if I have to be in a classroom where there are lots of people per square footage—I would probably wear a mask and a shield. And same thing if I'm on a plane."
"The downside [with face shields] is that we don't know how well they work for source control," Edmond says. Meaning that if an infectious person is wearing a shield, we don’t know well the shield prevents that person from spreading virus to others.
Edmond concluded that the safest approach combines a mask and a face shield to offer maximum protection from viral aerosols for yourself and for others.