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Can Goggles Help Protect You From the Coronavirus?

Photo: Braulio Jatar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

At the end of July, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, suggested that Americans looking to further protect themselves from the coronavirus should be wearing another piece of protective gear, along with masks: “If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it,” he told ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton on Instagram Live.

Your eyes, he explained, like your nose and your mouth, have mucous membranes, which permit viruses and bacteria to enter your body. So wearing goggles or a face shield in addition to a face mask provides more complete protection from becoming infected. This is especially true in situations where social distancing is difficult or where you are indoors for a long period of time.

To get a better understanding of how goggles protect you and what types do it best, we spoke with Dr. Ravina Kullar, an infectious-disease specialist, epidemiologist, and spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). She says you are much less likely to get infected through your eyes than through your mouth or nose. That’s because our eyes have pretty good built-in protection in our reflex to blink. However, Kullar says it is possible to become infected through your eyes — and the likelihood increases the more you touch or rub them. Goggles make that a lot less easy, acting as a physical barrier and reminder to keep germy fingers out. “As long as there’s a tight seal so the potential virus can’t get through, goggles would be effective at protecting the mucous membranes of your eyes,” Kullar says.

If you’re anxious about an upcoming flight, not able to work from home, or a teacher going back to work in the fall, we used the information we learned from Kullar to find some goggles you can buy that are both effective and actually kinda stylish.

These lightweight Oakley protective glasses feature a soft rubberized gasket that’s designed to fit snugly against the face. The lenses have an anti-scratch coating on the front surface and a permanent anti-fog coating on the back.

These tinted safety glasses have a removable gasket that filters air and fits snugly against the face.

If tinted goggles aren’t your thing, try this black-and-yellow pair that are sealed all the way around.

Although they’re designed to be worn on a motorcycle to protect your eyes from the wind, these goggles have a closed-cell foam that surrounds the eye cup, providing a comfortable seal that filters air. And they won’t fog up.

Bouton Safety Glasses
$11

Your parents probably wore something like this in chemistry class or woodshop. They actually have a nice Moscot or Warby Parker vibe to them. Safety glasses like these might not give a tight seal to all faces, but they will definitely discourage you from touching your eyes.

The design of these sporty frames is ideal for those with high cheekbones and a wide nose bridge. Though they may not create a completely tight seal, just wearing them will help you keep your fingers away from your eyes.

For the tightest seal, but perhaps not the most stylish design, try these goggles that are meant to keep you from crying while chopping onions.

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Can Goggles Help Protect You From the Coronavirus?