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Comment & Response
January 28, 2021

Specifying the Role of Masks in Reducing Viral Material on Environmental Surfaces of an Ophthalmology Examination Room

Author Affiliations
  • 1Disha Eye Hospital, Glaucoma, Kolkata, India
  • 2Disha Eye Hospital, Kolkata, India
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2021;139(3):365-366. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2020.6565

To the Editor This letter is in reference to the article by Aytoğan et al.1 It was an interesting and relevant article. The objective of the article was to investigate the presence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on the environmental surfaces of an ophthalmology examination room after visits by patients who were asymptomatic and had passed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) triage. However, the authors did not mention whether the patients, their companions, or the health care workers were wearing masks when the examinations were being performed. The study is expected to have completely different results if the participants were with or without masks and hence this point needs to be clearly mentioned in the study design. The type of masks worn by patients, companions, and health care workers, if known, should also be specified, or if it is not known, then that needs to be stated.

The outcome measure of the study was the presence of viral material on surfaces in 5 circular zones with a diameter of 1 m each around where the patients sat. Viability of SARS-CoV-2 on dry surfaces has been found to be identical to that of SARS-CoV-1 and Middle East respiratory syndrome–related coronavirus.2,3 However, the main difference between SARS-CoV-2 and the other viruses is the higher transmission rate of SARS-CoV-2. It has been shown that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can be greatly reduced if patients or asymptomatic carriers wear masks to decrease the deposition of viral material in their surroundings.4,5 Thus, the outcome measures in this study would be affected by the presence or absence of masks. We request that the authors clarify whether the patients, companions, and health care workers were wearing masks during the evaluation and, if so, the types of masks worn. This would help us understand the results better and give more meaning to the study.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Arijit Mitra, MBBS, DO, DNB, Disha Eye Hospital, Glaucoma, 88(63 A) Ghoshpara Rd, Kolkata, West Bengal 700120, India (jeet2712@yahoo.co.in).

Published Online: January 28, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2020.6565

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

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van Doremalen  N, Bushmaker  T, Munster  VJ.  Stability of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) under different environmental conditions.   Euro Surveill. 2013;18(38):19. doi:10.2807/1560-7917.ES2013.18.38.20590PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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