1 April 2020
Nearly one-third of patients with COVID-19 treated at a hospital centre had eye problems, a small study from China has shown.
The study of 38 patients with confirmed COVID-19 from Hubei Province, China, found 12 patients had eye signs consistent with conjunctivitis, including dilation of the conjunctival blood vessels (seen as redness), swelling of the conjunctiva (the mucus membrane covering the front of the eye and lining the inside of the eyelids), excessive watering of the eyes, or increased secretions.
Eye abnormalities were more likely in patients with more severe COVID-19.
In addition, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was detected on swabs of the conjunctiva of 2 patients.
“Although there is a low prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in tears, it is possible to transmit via the eyes,” the authors said.
This raises potential safety issues for ophthalmologists and other healthcare professionals who examine the eyes.