Why Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis Could Be a Symptom of COVID-19

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Recently, it has been observed that pink eye may be another symptom of COVID 19, especially in children, says Dr. Vikas Maurya, director and HOD, pulmonology, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh. Besides, mouth and nose, it has been found that the coronavirus can spread through the eyes too. A study, published in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology, determined that conjunctivitis and keratoconjunctivitis can also be a symptom of COVID-19 besides the usual symptoms including fever, dry cough, and tiredness, aches and pains, sore throat, headache and loss of taste or smell.

According to Dr. Maurya, as per available data, only three percent of people with COVID-19 will get conjunctivitis. “When the virus infects a tissue called the conjunctiva, which covers the white part of our eye, inside of our eyelids, that results in conjunctivitis. Some of the other related symptoms are: the eyes become swollen and itchy. One may even have excessive tearing or increased eye secretion,” said Dr. Maurya.

Academic studies at the outset of the pandemic also identified conjunctivitis as a secondary symptom in about 10 to 15 percent of Covid-19 cases.

What to Keep in Mind

According to Dr. Maurya, though the early stage of COVID 19 does not show pink eye as a symptom, it only happens in the advanced stage with some other respiratory problems. “In this situation, it is recommended to do an RT-PCR test,” he said.

But having pink eyes or swollen eyes may not necessarily mean someone has COVID 19. We must stay very careful regarding any kind of uneasiness in our eyes, he added.

Few Tips for Keeping Eyes Safe During the Pandemic

  • We must avoid gathering, wear a mask always whenever in public, and maintain social distancing
  • We need to wash our hands and eyes frequently
  • We have to avoid rubbing our eyes or touching our face frequently
  • If possible, we have to protect our eyes with glasses instead of contact lenses.

"As it is a challenging time for all of us, it’s best not to take any risk and contact the doctor as soon as we start observing any symptoms. Without consulting the doctor, we should not use any eye drops or medicine as sometimes wrong medication may affect us adversely,” he said.

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