Personal Protective Equipment has become an important and emotive subject during the current COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is predominantly caused by contact or droplet transmission attributed to relatively large respiratory particles which are subject to gravitational forces and travel only approximately one meter from the patient.
Multiple studies and practical applications have proven the fact that wearing a suitable eye & face protective gear reduces the risk of virus transmission by almost 60%. To avert the dangerous risk of explosive community transmission, precautions like wearing safety eyewear, face shields, masks and following a good hand hygiene should be included in our daily routines.
Guidelines from WHO, MOH&FW India & CDC say on Eye and Face Protection
The World Health Organisation, Indian Government & CDC (USA) have issued guidelines for the medical healthcare professionals handling infected patients. They have prescribed the mandatory usage of chemical splash goggles & face shields certified to international standards like EN166:2001/2002 (European norms), ANSI Z87+ (American norms), or IS5983:1980 (Indian National Standards).
The usage of chemical splash goggles, which gives complete sealing around the eyes, with indirect ventilation, polycarbonate lens, soft frame for user comfort during long hours of usage and optical class 1 as per standards, is essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection.
Protective Gear help in reducing risk
As researchers and evidences state, the transmission of virus happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, or is in contact with infected patients while treatment. The tiny droplet of liquids generated in the environment tends to act as a carrier of virus and is a cause of transmission. Safety eyewear, face shield and face mask act as a barrier between the entry point of the human body and the infectious droplets.
As per WHO guidelines, all medical health professionals and front-line workers should mandatorily wear an eye protection goggle and face shield to protect against any liquid and droplet splashes.
The need for Eye and Face protection in India
Considering the Indian demography and high population density, the usage of appropriate chemical splash protection goggles and face protection equipment can reduce the chances of transmission. This would help in reducing the mortality rate over a period of time and increase recovery rate until any vaccine is developed. Currently the entire country is fighting this pandemic and every person is equally threatened by it. However, healthcare workers are at extreme risk as they are in direct contact with patients and contaminated areas. Similarly, municipal workers and cleaning professionals are also at an extremely high risk of exposure.
Correct Use of Face Shields
The right use of a face shield depends on the application. Appropriately fitted goggles with indirect vents offer the most reliable and practical eye protection from splashes, but face shields are considered an effective alternative to goggles for prevention of eye contamination from infectious agents.
Though, face shield alone is insufficient for eye and face protection as it does not prevent particles from entering the human body through the nose which could affect the mucous membrane from contamination by body fluids. In situations where a face shield is used to protect against splash or splatter, a medical/surgical mask should also be mandatory.
Face shields are not meant to function as a primary respiratory protective gear and should not be used alone because aerosols can flow behind the visor. So a protective facemask (medical/surgical mask, N95 FFR, etc.) should be worn at the same time.
In instances where aerosolization of body fluids of infectious individuals is likely to occur (suctioning the airway, intubation, etc.), a respirator (e.g., N95 FFR) should be used in conjunction with the face shield.
Use of protective gear like face masks, face shields and safety eyewear in daily life is the new normal. It is a basic need without which people will not like to step out even after the lockdown is over. And as responsible consumers we should ensure to wear the right product at all times as it directly affects our health.