A new study suggests that a facemask alone might not protect you from coronavirus.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say the virus can potentially enter the body through the eyes, thanks to a protein called ACE-2. This could explain why some coronavirus patients have developed conjunctivitis with a red swelling in the eyes. However, breathing in the virus through the nose or mouth remains the most common method of transmission, experts say.
The scientists studied a group of 10 cadavers, who did not die from anything coronavirus-related, and they found that their eyes and the area underneath their eyelids produced a solid amount ACE2 -- an enzyme known to facilitate COVID-19's permeation of the human body. This enzyme is found in lots of places -- like in the mouth and lungs -- but until now, it wasn't known our eyes had them at such high levels.
That's a huge problem, obviously -- but it gets worse. There's another enzyme called TMPRSS2 which further helps the virus slip through our pores and blood vessels -- and the Johns Hopkins crew found that our eyes have a load of that floating around as well.
And wait, there's more -- the group goes so far as to say that tears could possibly be a way of transmitting the virus and spreading to surfaces and/or to the others -- depending on where you're crying. For the record, this new study has not been peer-reviewed by others yet.
Still, it's scary to think about.