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Microorganisms on glasses a health risk?
Many people rely on glasses to compensate for impaired vision. However, glasses are also part of everyday life with a particularly high bacterial load and this can pose a health risk. A current study examined which areas of the glasses are particularly contaminated and which germs are found here.
Almost every second European wears glasses and, due to the exposed position in the middle of the face, proximity to the mouth and nose, and frequent skin contact, especially from the hands, glasses have been shown to be clearly contaminated with microorganisms, reports a research team from Furtwangen University, University of Tübingen and Carl Zeiss Vision International GmbH. The bacterial colonization of worn glasses has now been examined for the first time in a molecular biological study. The results were published in the scientific reports.
First molecular biological investigation
As part of the study, the researchers checked 30 worn glasses for their bacterial load using molecular biological tests. "Since many bacteria have not yet been able to be cultivated, molecular biological methods allow completely new insights into the colonization of everyday objects such as glasses," explains study leader Prof. Dr. Markus Egert from the Furtwangen University of Applied Sciences.
Eyeglass lenses the most stressed
The researchers analyzed the bacterial colonization of the glasses on the lenses, the earpieces and the nasal pillows, and they were able to identify 5,232 different types and 665 types of bacteria, reports the Furtwangen University. The lowest load was found on the nasal pillows, the highest on the glasses.
Especially skin and mucous membrane bacteria
According to the researchers, “skin and mucous membrane bacteria that reach the glasses via the skin of the face, hands or mouth and nose (such as cutibacteria, corynebacteria or staphylococci)” were found. These get onto the glasses, for example when breathing or by breathing on the glasses while cleaning glasses.
Imminent infections - also in the eye area
"However, typical environmental germs, such as pseudomonas, that could get there via the air, were also found on the glasses," the research team continues. In addition, "more than 80 percent of the 13 most frequently identified species are potentially pathogenic and can cause infections, especially in sensitive people, including in the eye area," according to the Furtwangen University.
Regularly clean the glasses thoroughly
The proven bacterial load also shows how important it is to clean the glasses regularly. In previous studies, the group led by Prof. Egert had already shown that the bacterial load on glasses can be reduced by around 95 percent by wet cleaning, for example with glasses wipes, according to the Furtwangen University.
Corona viruses can also be removed with water and detergent
"According to current knowledge, wet cleaning with alcoholic or tenside-containing glasses cleaning cloths or simply with water and detergent is also a sensible strategy for removing corona and other viruses on the glasses after having had contact with coughing people," emphasizes Professor Egert.
Better assessment of glasses as germ carriers
In addition, suitable hygiene measures are also available for people who have a lot to do with glasses from other people, such as ophthalmologists or opticians. The new study provides a comprehensive basis for a better assessment of glasses as a germ carrier, especially in the clinical area, and subsequent studies must now show to what extent glasses could play a role as a germ reservoir in recurrent eye infections and the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the research team concluded . (fp)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters
- Furtwangen University: Spectacles flora: the mini universe in front of your nose (published 30.03.2020), hs-furtwangen.de
- Birgit Fritz, Melanie März, Severin Weis, Siegfried Wahl, Focke Ziemssen, Markus Egert: Site-specific molecular analysis of the bacteriota on worn spectacles; in: Scientific Reports (30.03.2020), nature.com