At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019, there have been more than 6.5 million disease cases worldwide. COVID-19 is caused by a discovered virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.
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The virus that causes COVID-19 is contagious and can result in either mild illness. According to the World Health Organization, the symptoms include:
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Although less common, COVID-19 may lead to the development of the pink eye in about 1 to 3% of people.
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Pink eye and ophthalmological signs of COVID-19
It’s thought that up to 3% of people with COVID-19 develop ophthalmological symptoms.
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A recent study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology that looked at the person with COVID-19 found eye symptoms in the middle stages of infection.
Is pink eye a symptom of COVID-19?
Pink eye symptoms, also called conjunctivitis, are an inflammation of the clear tissue over the whites of the eyes and inside your eyelids. It leads to redness and swelling of your eyes. A bacterial infection can cause it.
A study published in April 2020 examined how pink eye is among people with COVID-19.
They found that 1 percent of people developed pink eye and joint in people with severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Research published in February 2020 examined the COVID-19 symptoms of 1090 people with the disease in 553 hospitals in China. Researchers found that 0.8% of the people with COVID-19 had symptoms of pink eye.
8 of these people experienced chemosis, swelling of the transparent membrane that covers the whites of eyes and inner eyelid. Chemosis can be a symptom of eye irritation.
How the coronavirus gets into people eyes
The virus that can lead to the 2003 SARS breakout entered your body through an angiotensin-converting enzyme 2. Some study has found that the virus that causes COVID-19 likely does the same.
ACE2 is found throughout the body, including the heart, kidney, intestines, and lungs. In addition, ACE2 has been detected in the human retina and the thin tissue that lines your eye.
When the virus reaches your eyes, it causes pink eye and other eye symptoms.
How to protect eyes from the novel coronavirus
Protecting eyes from airborne respiratory droplets may help reduce the chances of contracting the new coronavirus.
Here are some tips to protect your eyes:
- Avoid rubbing your eyes in public and with unwashed hands.
- Switch from contact lenses to glasses. There’s no evidence that glasses decrease your risk for infection. Sometimes people wearing contacts may rub their eyes.
- Follow recommended practices. Wash your hands, avoid touching your face, avoid sick people, follow physical distancing, and wear a mask in a public place.
When to see a doctor
To reduce the risk of the virus to other people, healthcare workers avoid going to a hospital. About 80% of people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms.
Some clinics are offering virtual visits, which involve talking to a doctor by phone or online. These services lower the chances of transmitting the virus to others.
They’re the best option than visiting a doctor’s office if your symptoms are mild.
Minimizing contact with eyes and taking other precautions, like wearing a mask in a public place, washing your hands, and practicing physical distancing, can help reduce the chances of contracting the new coronavirus and developing pink eye.
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