Can I get COVID-19 through my eyes or ears?

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Can I get COVID-19 through my eyes or ears?

It's possible through the eyes, but not likely through the ears.

As with the nose and mouth, doctors say the eyes may be a route of infection if someone with the virus coughs or sneezes nearby. Infection is also possible when rubbing your eyes with hands that have been exposed to the virus.

Tears from an infected person could also spread the virus.

Frequent hand washing, social distancing and the use of facial coverings in public are ways to keep the virus from spreading, including through the eyes.

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Glasses may also offer added protection, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Health care workers are advised to use safety goggles when treating potentially infected patients.

Ears, on the other hand, are not believed to be a route of COVID-19 infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The skin in the outer ear canal is more like regular skin, unlike the tissue in the mouth, nose and sinuses. That creates a barrier that makes it difficult for the virus to enter, according to Dr. Benjamin Bleier at Massachusetts Eye and Ear in Boston.

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Submit questions about the coronavirus to FactCheck@AP.org.


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