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Coronavirus and Conjunctivitis

Guarding your eyes, nose, mouth and washing your hands can slow the spread of corona virus:

FOR PROTECTING YOUR EYES DURING COVID:

  • Wash hands frequently
  • Practice good contact lens hygiene.
  • Avoid touching / rubbing nose, mouth, eyes.
  1. If a contact lens user, consider switching to glasses for a while
  • Contact lens usage per se does not increase risk of infection, but its known that contact lens wearers touch their eyes more than spectacle wearers.
  • Substituting contact lenses with glasses can decrease irritation
  • Decrease need / desire to touch eyes.
  1. Glasses provide a barrier – an additional layer of protection. Powered glasses / sunglass or eye shields protect from infected respiratory droplets (but don’t provide 100% security). The Virus can still reach the eyes from exposed sides, the top/ bottom of glass.
  2. Keep some basic eye medication at home (supplies can become erratic during outbreaks).
  3. Avoid rubbing the eyes:-
  • Decrease the risk of coronavirus infections by doing so.
  • If rubbing or touching is necessary, use a tissue instead of fingers.
  • Dry eyes, if any can cause increased irritation, so use lubricating drops regularly, as prescribed.
  • Wash hands for 20 secs with soap & water, before putting drops in the eyes, then rinse hands again after touching the Eyes.
  1. Practice safe hygiene and proper social distancing.
  2. Regular use of Protective eye gear such as Sunglasses, goggles & prescription glasses and face shields (visors) also help minimize the risk of inadvertent coronavirus exposure.

Patients who have contracted the new coronavirus may develop ocular symptoms.

Conjunctivitis: This is an inflammation of the membrane covering the white portion of the eyeball and the inside lining of the eyelids. It is often referred to as “pink eye.” Conjunctivitis often presents as an infected, red, “wet and weepy” eye.

However, corona virus- related conjunctivitis is infrequent, at least in India.

Viral conjunctivitis is known to present with upper respiratory infections (colds, flus, etc.) and may also be a symptom of the COVID-19 virus. A recent study of hospitals across China, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found “conjunctival congestion” or red, infected eyes in nine of 1,099 patients (0.8%) with a confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus.

A study in The Journal of Medical Virology of 30 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 had only one patient diagnosed with conjunctivitis. Based on this information, the occurrence of conjunctivitis seems to be quite low.

Furthermore, the risk of transmission of the new coronavirus through tears is low, according to a new study published in Ophthalmology. Researchers tested tear samples collected from patients with COVID-19 in Singapore. Based on data so far, doctors believe that 1%-3% of people with covid-19 will get conjunctivitis, also called pinkeye.

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