Does Covid 19 affect our eyes?

Now with the resurgence of Covid 19, we are all back to following covid protocol, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. As we try to stay safe from Covid 19, my patients often ask me, “Does Covid 19 affect our eyes?” Let’s talk about it!

The Third COVID 19 wave

As the new #Omicron Variant had spread rapidly causing the third COVID 19 wave, several concerns have emerged.

You must be already aware of general symptoms of COVID 19 such as fever, cough, breathlessness. But can Covid cause any eye symptoms? The answer is yes! Although it is rare, still there are some eye symptoms.

How common are eye symptoms in Covid 19 patients?

Only 1-3% patients of Covid 19 suffer from eye symptoms.

Even if this is quite a rare occurrence, it is important to know about these symptoms to be alert and take due precautions.

What are the eye symptoms caused by Covid 19?

Most common eye condition caused by Covid 19 is “conjunctivitis” or “pink eye” or “eye flu”.

It is an infection of the “conjunctiva” which is a clear membrane covering the white part of your eyes.

You may experience the following symptoms

  1. Eye redness
  2. Mild swelling of eyelids
  3. Watering Eyes
  4. Discharge from eyes
  5. Irritation
  6. Mild blurring of vision

If I have these symptoms, does it mean that I have Covid 19?

No! Apart from Covid 19, there are several other viruses and bacteria that can cause conjunctivitis.

But, along with conjunctivitis, if you have fever, cough and sore throat, you could suspect Covid and need to get yourself tested.

How does Covid spread to the eyes?

As we all know, Covid is primarily a respiratory virus. The virus particles are released into the air in the form of micro droplets every time an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These virus particles suspended in the air can enter your body through your nose, mouth or eyes. Another way the virus spreads is if you touch a contaminated surface and touch your eyes or nose without washing or sanitizing your hands.

Likewise, you are likely to spread the infection to others if you have conjunctivitis due to Covid 19 by contamination with unclean hands.

What to do if I have conjunctivitis due to Covid 19?

First of all, do not panic.

Monitor your general symptoms like fever, cough and breathlessness. If your symptoms are mild and you are under home isolation, you need to take the prescribed medicines for Covid 19.

For eye symptoms, you may use any antibiotic eye drops for a week. Maintain hand hygiene and do not share your towels to avoid spread of infection to others. The conjunctivitis caused due to Covid 19 is not severe and will resolve on its own with supportive treatment.

If you are experiencing moderate to severe Covid symptoms, you need to visit a Covid hospital and follow the instructions of the treating physician. If you are advised to get hospitalized, it is best to get admitted.

Apart from conjunctivitis, is there any other eye symptom caused by Covid 19?

There are certain conditions such as uveitis and retinitis that have been observed in patients of Covid 19.

These manifestations present with symptoms such as eye pain, intolerance to light, watering, and blurring of vision. However, these conditions are extremely rare.

When to see your eye doctor?

Due to lockdown, most doctors are providing only emergency consultations or virtual consultations over video call.

You may need to contact your eye doctor if you notice eye symptoms of Covid 19 and are already suffering from other eye conditions such as

  1. Diabetic retinopathy
  2. Loss of vision
  3. Severe pain and redness in the eyes
  4. Glaucoma
  5. Are currently taking treatment for uveitis
  6. Require regulars eye injections

Your ophthalmologist will then advise you specific treatment after assessing your condition.

How to keep your eyes protected from Covid 19?

In addition to the usual Covid appropriate protocol such as wearing masks, maintaining hand hygiene and maintaining social distancing, here are a few tips you can follow to protect your eyes from Covid 19.

1. Face shields

Face shields from a physical barrier to infectious droplets and prevent infections. Remember to also wear a mask while using a face shield.

2. Spectacles and Contact lenses

If you wear spectacles, they provide a natural barrier to infecting virus particles. Remember to follow these tips to take good care of your glasses.

If you are a contact lens user, you can continue using them. There is no evidence that using contact lenses poses you to any excess risk of Covid. Just ensure that you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before putting in your contact lenses or before removing them. Also you could follow these tips to take good care of your contact lenses.

3. Avoid touching your eyes

As you continue to maintain hand hygiene to keep yourself safe from Covid 19, do remember that you must avoid touching or rubbing your eyes to avoid getting infected or to avoid spreading the infection to others.

4. Stock your eye medications

If you are on any regular eye medication, such as glaucoma eyedrops, it may be a good idea to stock your medications for 1-2 months so that you have an uninterrupted supply of medications for optimum ocular health.

I hope I have helped you understand the eye symptoms of Covid 19.

If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment or email me at neha.pednekar1489@gmail.com

I’ll see you soon in my next blog, till then take good care of your eyes and stay healthy!

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