Here’s a coronavirus update: Experts say covid-19 can spread through the eyes
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 10, 2023
The fight against Covid-19 has brought about a number of precautions to keep ourselves safe, such as wearing masks and using hand sanitizers. However, recent research suggests that we need to add another important measure to that list: taking care of our eyes. Eye-care specialists in India have discovered that the virus can actually transmit through the eyes.
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To minimize the risk of the virus entering our bodies through our eyes, it is crucial to wear glasses and prioritize our eye health.
Experts have found that one of the rare symptoms of Covid-19 is conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye. Surprisingly, patients may not experience other symptoms like fever, cold, or cough besides mild conjunctivitis. These patients may also lose their sense of smell and taste, according to Ikeda Lal, an ophthalmologist at Delhi Eye Centre and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it was revealed that out of 1,099 patients from 30 different Chinese hospitals, nine had “conjunctival congestion.” This highlights the need for us to be more conscious of our eye care routine in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Understanding the Symptoms of Conjunctivitis
The symptoms of conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, include redness, watering, irritation, pain, and discharge. Any discharge from an infected eye can potentially contaminate others, warns the experts.
While there have been relatively few reports of Covid-19 conjunctivitis, mostly from China, individuals should be cautious if they develop conjunctivitis during this pandemic and seek immediate testing, advises Rajesh Sinha, a Professor of Ophthalmology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.
The contamination through the eyes is similar to contamination through the mouth. When a person touches a contaminated surface and then touches their eyes or face, the virus can enter their body. Wearing glasses can help prevent virus droplets from coming into contact with the eyes.
Eye-care Practices for Everyone
To prevent the spread of coronavirus, Dr. Lal emphasizes the importance of eye care during this pandemic. He suggests avoiding rubbing your eyes and refraining from wearing contact lenses, as those who wear them tend to rub their eyes, which can allow the virus to enter.
Here are some eye-care practices that everyone should follow:
- Wear glasses when stepping out of the house, especially for those who wear contact lenses, who should switch to glasses immediately.
- Take frequent breaks from webinars, web series, and typing reports to intentionally increase your blink rate, recommended by Dr. Sinha.
- Regularly use lubricating eye drops or splash water into your eyes to keep them moist.
With Covid-19 cases on the rise, it is crucial to take every precaution seriously. To protect ourselves from the virus, it is essential to prioritize basic eye care along with other preventive measures. Together, we can keep our eyes and ourselves safe from the threat of Covid-19.