What glasses wearers should know
Around 44.2 million people in Germany wear glasses regularly or occasionally. So far, there have been no investigations into the bacterial load emanating from these everyday items. For this reason, German researchers took a closer look at the microflora on the surface of the glasses and discovered that all of the glasses examined were bacterially contaminated. A health risk?
A research group around the microbiologist Professor Dr. Markus Egert from Furtwangen University recently conducted a study to analyze whether germs on glasses pose an increased risk of illness for the wearer. In fact, the team found pathogenic agents on all glasses examined. The researchers warn that certain glasses could pose a health hazard for certain people. The study results were recently published in the specialist journal "Plos one".
Bacteria lurked on all glasses examined
Different areas of glasses provided were examined in the laboratory for the study. Some of the glasses came from students and employees of the university, others from an old people's home. "All glasses examined were bacterially colonized," Professor Egert reports in a press release on the study results. The areas with direct skin contact, i.e. the ear hooks and nose pads, are most populated. The research team found peak values of 660,000 bacteria per square centimeter, especially on the nasal pillow. The glasses, on the other hand, showed the lowest bacterial load.
What is on my glasses?
The researchers primarily identified typical skin and mucous membrane bacteria, especially from the Staphylococcus genus. Surprisingly, the number of pathogenic species among these bacteria was very high. Around 60 percent of the Staphylococcus germs found were classified as pathogenic. They are considered to be the cause of conjunctivitis or endophthalmitis.
When cleaning glasses, always clean the entire glasses with a damp cloth
In further tests, the team examined the extent to which the germ pressure can be reduced by cleaning with a cloth. It was found that rubbing the entire pair of glasses with a damp cleaning cloth can reduce germs by 94 to 99 percent. Gentle alcohol-free cleaning wipes also achieved very good results. Dry wipes were somewhat less effective in the investigation. These only removed 85 to 90 percent of the germs.
Relationships to recurrent infections
"The study clearly shows that glasses act as germ carriers," summarizes Professor Dr. Markus Egert. In a further study, the microbiologist would like to investigate whether the flora of the glasses can also be a reason for recurring eye infections and whether the glasses serve as a reservoir for antibiotic-resistant germs such as MRSA (Multi-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).
For whom could your own glasses pose a danger?
"For healthy people, your glasses certainly do not pose any particular risk of infection," emphasizes Professor Egert. However, the expert advises that people who suffer from frequently recurring eye infections or a weak immune system should not neglect the microbial load on the glasses and should consider regular disinfection of the glasses. (vb)