Mask goggles
Composite photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Should Wearing Eye Protection Be Required When Traveling?

“If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it. It’s not universally recommended, but if you really want to be complete, you should probably use it if you can.”

Should Wearing Eye Protection Be Required When Traveling?

The statement which you just read was said by Anthony S. Fauci — who is the current director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the United States and has held that position since 1984 — during an interview on ABC News. He is considered to be one of the foremost experts pertaining to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

Many of the responses which have been posted on Twitter have not exactly been supportive:

Neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor the World Health Organization officially outright endorse the recommendation — or the mandatory implementation — of the wearing of goggles in an attempt to reduce the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus; but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does offer some guidance pertaining to using eye protection

Use of eye protection is recommended in areas with moderate to substantial community transmission. For areas with minimal to no community transmission, eye protection is considered optional, unless otherwise indicated as part of standard precautions.

…yet in this guidance for workers who are employed as part of the healthcare industry, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised as of Wednesday, July 15, 2020 that “protective eyewear (e.g., safety glasses, trauma glasses) with gaps between glasses and the face likely do not protect eyes from all splashes and sprays.”

Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that a person can possibly contract the 2019 Novel Coronavirus “by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about how this virus spreads.”

Employees of airlines were offered this guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention back on Wednesday, March 4, 2020: “If splashing is possible, eye protection, such as a faceshield or goggles and facemask may be required according to the manufacture’s label.”

What are the ocular manifestations and conjunctival viral prevalence in patients from China with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus? “A total of 12 of 38 patients (31.6%; 95% CI, 17.5-48.7) had ocular manifestations consistent with conjunctivitis, including conjunctival hyperemia, chemosis, epiphora, and increased secretions”, according to this report from the Journal of the American Medical Association which was authored by six doctors of medicine. “Among these 12 patients, there were 4 cases judged as moderate, 2 cases judged as severe, and 6 cases judged as critical, which was graded according to the guideline of PC-NCP: moderate indicated fever and/or respiratory symptoms and lung computed tomography imaging findings; severe indicated dyspnea (respiratory frequency of 30 cycles per minute or greater), blood oxygen saturation of 93% or less, and an arterial partial pressure of oxygen to fraction of oxygen inspiration ratio of 300 or less; and critical indicated respiratory failure or shock or multiple organ dysfunction/failure.”

Joseph Fair — who is a virologist, epidemiologist, and contributor to NBC who earned both a Master of Public Health and Doctor of Philosophy degrees — claimed on this video from the TODAY show on May 14, 2020 that his “‘Best guess’ is I got coronavirus through my eyes”.

Furthermore, he claimed via this message on Twitter that he contracted the 2019 Novel Coronavirus while he was traveling via airplane: “The flights I was on said they social distanced in their seating but in no way were doing that. I did not go out after getting home. In retrospect, I should have gotten off the flight. 20/20 hindsight.”


This official press release from Qatar Airways on Monday, May 18, 2020 announced that members of flight crews “will wear the PPE suit over their uniforms in addition to safety goggles, gloves and a mask to provide even greater reassurance to customers in addition to enhanced hygienic measures already in place.” Moreover, passengers who are seated in the economy class cabin aboard airplanes which are operated by Qatar Airways are required to wear face shield visors in addition to their face mask or covering of their noses and mouths throughout the flight, according to this official press release from Qatar Airways on Thursday, July 2, 2020.

Passengers in the premium class cabin are not required to wear face shields; but they are encouraged to do so.

Should airlines, lodging companies, rental car facilities, and other entities in the travel industry require their employees and customers to wear eye protection — such as goggles or face shields — in addition to masks and coverings for the nose and mouth in order to attempt to reduce the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus…

…or — perhaps — permanently instead of temporarily?

Composite photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.


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