More than one million patients have been affected by the COVID-19 infection globally. Countries have been on lockdowns to prevent the spread of this infectious disease. Since it is a novel strain of coronavirus, doctors and scientists have been working hard to find a cure for this disease.

Despite all the preventive measures, cases of COVID-19 are increasing rapidly around the world. While some infected patients present with milder symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing, others show severe symptoms like extreme difficulty in breathing, persistent pain in the chest, a state of confusion (delirium) and bluish discolouration of the face and lips.

While doctors and scientists are still trying to understand the disease, a new “eye” symptom is being reported in many patients of the COVID-19 infection.

Here in this article, we will tell you about the eye symptoms related to COVID-19 infection.

  1. Does COVID-19 infection affect the eyes?
  2. What are the eye symptoms seen in patients of COVID-19?
  3. What can be done to protect the eyes from COVID-19 infection?
Doctors for Eye symptoms in COVID-19

Various studies have been conducted to find out how COVID-19 infection affects the eyes. Some of those studies are:

  • The first study is published in the Journal of Medical Virology which included 30 patients who were hospitalized for COVID-19 in China. Their tear and conjunctival secretions were collected for testing. The results showed that one of those patients’ samples came positive for COVID-19, linking the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the eyes. 
  • Another study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which included 1099 patients from 30 hospitals across China who were hospitalized due to confirmed COVID-19 infection. The doctors stated that out of those 1099 patients, 9 had conjunctival congestion. However, no tear samples were taken to confirm the presence of the virus in the tears. 
  • A case study published on 31st March 2020 in JAMA Ophthalmology concluded that out of 38 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in the Hubei Province, China, 12 had ocular issues such as chemosis and epiphora.

Common eye symptoms seen in the patients infected with COVID-19 infection include:

  • Epiphora: Epiphora is an eye condition marked with severe watering of eyes
  • Conjunctival congestion: Conjunctival congestion is another name for pink eye. It is an eye condition where the eye goes extremely red with excessive watery discharge. 
  • Chemosis: Chemosis is a result of eye irritation. In chemosis, the outer surface of the eye (conjunctiva) looks like a big blister.

Things normal people can do to protect their eyes from COVID-19 infection:

  • Stay away from people who are sick. 
  • Try and maintain a distance of at least 1 metre to prevent yourself from the droplets coughed or sneezed out by an infected person, the primary cause of the disease.
  • People should not touch their eyes frequently.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water more often.

Things healthcare professionals should do to protect their eyes from the COVID-19 infection:

  • Healthcare workers should wear protective goggles and face shield to protect themselves from the aerosols that are produced during various medical procedures such as while collecting a sample from an infected patient and while placing an endotracheal tube. 
  • They should not touch their eyes without washing them with soap and water.
Dr. Arun R

Dr. Arun R

Infectious Disease
5 Years of Experience

Dr. Neha Gupta

Dr. Neha Gupta

Infectious Disease
16 Years of Experience

Dr. Lalit Shishara

Dr. Lalit Shishara

Infectious Disease
8 Years of Experience

Dr. Alok Mishra

Dr. Alok Mishra

Infectious Disease
5 Years of Experience


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References

  1. Wu P, Duan F, Luo C, et al. Characteristics of Ocular Findings of Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Hubei Province, China. JAMA Ophthalmol. Published online March 31, 2020.
  2. Xia, J, Tong, J, Liu, M, Shen, Y, Guo, D. Evaluation of coronavirus in tears and conjunctival secretions of patients with SARS‐CoV‐2 infection. J Med Virol. 2020; 1– 6.
  3. American Academy of Ophthalmology [internet] California, United States; Important coronavirus updates for ophthalmologists.