COVID-19 may be transmitted through the eye, report finds

A new report published by JAMA Ophthalmology found preliminary data may suggest SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, might be transmitted through the eye.

Researchers analyzed data from 38 patients infected with COVID-19 from Hubei Province, China, and found 12 (31.6%) individuals had ocular manifestations, including epiphora, conjunctival congestion, or chemosis.

These symptoms commonly occur in patients with severe systemic manifestations of COVID-19 and are consistent with conjunctivitis, or pink eye. None of the 12 patients experienced blurred vision.

Besides, patients with ocular symptoms were more likely to have higher white blood cell and neutrophil counts and higher levels of procalcitonin, C-Reactive Protein (CRP), and Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH) than patients without ocular symptoms, the researchers found.

The study also found COVID-19 was present on conjunctival swabs from 2 of 11 (18%) patients tested for SARS-CoV-2 via nasopharyngeal swabs.

Previously, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) observed that some reports suggest the virus can cause conjunctivitis and possibly be transmitted by aerosol contact with conjunctiva.

Link to the paper: https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2020.1291

Editorial Disclaimer: information published during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic may be updated frequently to reflect the dynamic nature of current understanding.

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