A round-up of the eye related hot topics that have been trending on social media over the last few weeks.
Ocular transmission of COVID-19 was discussed from the very beginning of the pandemic [1-3]. Indeed, it was an Ophthalmologist, Dr Li Wenliang, who first sounded the alarm about the novel disease . Observational studies [5,6] and an Indian study, which studied the introduction of face shields in addition to personal protective equipment and hand hygiene , have suggested the eyes are a relevant route of transmission. Recently, a non-peer-reviewed study found that for a cohort of patients in Northern India (n=304), there was a two to three times reduced risk of contracting COVID-19 if the patient continuously wore spectacles during the day and during outdoor activities . This is not the first study to report this finding, and the finding has been reported in a peer-reviewed journal . It is speculated that spectacles may provide protection as a physical barrier to the eyes, as face touching is a frequent habit, with a study reporting a mean of 23 times an hour, and 27% of that involving the eyes . If you are a spectacle wearer, this might be the perfect excuse for a new pair of frames!
Blind and deaf doggie Curtis was caught red-handed on his owner’s security camera grabbing pots and pans off the hob and plates off the counter at 5am. Because he is deaf, his owners say he is untrainable, and they let him be. Not only is he good at nicking food in the middle of the night, he is also known to stealthily take food from peoples’ plates and bags when they’re momentarily distracted, earning him the title of “ninja dog”. If you need a laugh, I’d recommend checking out the video available at the link .
Bitcoin holders recently started a meme associated with the hashtag #LaserRayUntil100K . It involved changing their Twitter profile pictures so that laser beams appeared to emit from their eyes . The intent was to keep this altered profile picture until Bitcoin, which was valued at $50,000 USD on 16 February 2021 attained a value of $100,000 USD. Sen. Cynthia Lumimis (Wyoming) and Rep. Warren Davidson (Ohio) showed their support, triggering an explainer on the phenomenon to be published by Forbes .
One of the few memories I have of my grandparents is of my grandfather showing me his ‘eye exercises’ He looked all directions of gaze repeatedly for a set number of times, and then did essentially what are convergence exercises. I forgot about this until my mum mentioned she had started doing eye exercises and felt like it was improving her vision. To my amusement, I discovered that this has now been trendily repackaged as ‘eye yoga’ in both Stylist  and Vogue . Nevertheless, it is topical because over the last year, we have all had exponential amounts of screen time, and complaints of digital eye strain have increased accordingly.
My fellow doctors will be screaming at me now, “But is there any evidence?” A search of ‘eye yoga’ on Pubmed yielded some interesting reading. Eye yoga has been reported in small, non-randomised studies to relieve symptoms of eye fatigue [16,17]. These studies both used subjective outcome measures. These steps of “palming, blinking, sideways viewing, front and sideways viewing, rotational viewing, up / down viewing, preliminary nose-tip gazing, near / distant viewing” , and additionally “concentrated gazing, and acupressure point on the palm” were examined in these studies. This is more or less the routine that the journalist from Stylist followed in her article . If you are curious, check out the link  for the full routine. Additionally, a study examining eye yoga found that a 10-minute routine consisting of an initial relaxation sequence followed by slow continuous movements in all directions of gaze and including circular movements of the eyeballs, then followed by palming (rubbing palms to eyeballs without applying pressure) was found to reduce intraocular pressure and increase average retinal thickness at the macula, but it must be stressed the absolute values of these differences were negligable . So, the verdict is out on whether eye yoga has any tangible benefits for eye health, but it might help with subjective symptoms of eye fatigue.
(Please note: the studies quoted were small, non-radomised studies, hence the quality of the evidence to date is not robust.)
1. Qing H, Li Z, Yang Z, et al. The possibility of COVID-19 transmission from eye to nose. Acta Ophthalmol 2020;98(3):e388.
2. Chen X, Yu H, Ting M, et al. SARS-CoV-2 on the ocular surface: is it truly a novel transmission route? Brit J Ophthalmol August 2020;Epub ahead of print.
3. Maragakis LL. Eye Protection and the Risk of Coronavirus Disease 2019: Does Wearing Eye Protection Mitigate Risk in Public, Non–Health Care Settings? JAMA Ophthalmol 2020;138(11):1199-200.
5. Zeng W, Wang X, Li J, et al. Association of daily wear of eyeglasses and susceptibility to coronavirus disease 2019 infection. JAMA Ophthalmol Sept 2020;Epub ahead of print.
6. Lu CW, Liu XF, Jia ZF. 2019‐nCoV transmission through the ocular surface must not be ignored. Lancet 2020;395:e39.
7. Bhaskar ME, Arun S. SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Community Health Workers in India Before and After Use of Face Shields. JAMA 2020;324(13):1348-9.
8. Saxena Senior A. Risk of Corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) among spectacles wearing population of Northern India. MedRxiv February 2021.
9. Zeng W, Wang X, Li J, et al. Association of Daily Wear of Eyeglasses With Susceptibility to Coronavirus Disease 2019 Infection. JAMA Ophthalmol 2020;138(11):1196-9.
10. Kwok YL, Gralton J, McLaws ML. Face touching: a frequent habit that has implications for hand hygiene. Am J Infect Control 2015;43(2):112-4.
16. Gupta SK, Aparna S. Effect of Yoga Ocular Exercises on Eye Fatigue. Int J Yoga 2020;13(1):76-9.
17. Kim SD. Effects of yogic eye exercises on eye fatigue in undergraduate nursing students. J Phys Ther Sci 2016;28(6):1813-5.
18. Galina D, Etsuo C, Takuhei S, et al. Immediate Effect of Yoga Exercises for Eyes on the Macular Thickness. Int J Yoga 2020;13(3):223-6.
(All links last accessed March 2021)
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