Coronaviruses are a large group of Viruses that usually causes mild to moderate Respiratory illness. Currently, we all are aware of a new type of virus called COVID-19, which emerged from Wuhan, China in late December 2019 and was declared as a global pandemic by WHO on March 11, 2020. This virus has since spread to many other countries throughout the world. 

As it is increasing rapidly worldwide, it’s very important to know the symptoms and risks associated with it. People who are exposed to this virus may begin to show symptoms from 2 to 14 days after getting exposure. 

Symptoms commonly seen are fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. It gets transmitted mainly from the droplets of saliva and discharge when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The new coronavirus can also lead to Conjunctivitis(Pink Eye) and Chinese Researchers said that the virus may spread by tears too. Out of 38 patients with COVID-19, one third were found to have pink eyes, a new study found. In 2 patients, the coronavirus was present in both nasal and eye fluids. 

How are your eyes affected by Coronavirus? 

Eye doctors and health experts said, Eyes play a vital role in the spread and prevention of new coronavirus outbreaks seen throughout the world. To stop or minimize the risk of the virus, avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands. 

When an infected person coughs or sneezes then the droplets may land in the nose or mouth of yours then you are likely to breathe these droplets through your nose or mouth. You can also get infected if you touch your eyes after touching the surface or something which has a virus in it. 

Peking University Respiratory Specialist, Wang Guangfa believed that he contracted COVID-19 while not wearing eye protection when treating patients at a health clinic in China. Wang reported that his left eye became inflamed, followed by fever and a buildup of mucus in his nose and throat. Later he was diagnosed with new coronavirus. 

According to the South China Morning post, Wang thinks the virus entered his left eye because he wasn’t wearing protection glasses.

Dr. Jan Evans Patterson, Professor of medicine and pathology in the Long School of medicine’s infectious disease division at UT Health San Antonio, confirms that Scenario like Wang’s could potentially happen. 

Coronavirus and Conjunctivitis 

It might be possible for coronavirus to cause conjunctivitis(inflammation of a tissue that lines the inside of the eyelids and covers the white portion of the eye) but it’s rare. Based on data, health experts believe that 1%-3% of people with coronavirus will get conjunctivitis (pink eye). If you get conjunctivitis, don’t get afraid. It doesn’t necessarily mean you get affected by coronavirus. Pink eyes can be caused by Virus or Bacteria, it gets transmitted when someone touches discharge from eyes or touches anything which is contaminated. 

But, in case if you have pink eyes along with fever, cough, difficulty in breathing ; you should let to know the experts before visiting hospital so as to implement the safety measures. 

Italy’s first patient of coronavirus, who travelled from Wuhan, China to Italy in late January and was admitted to hospital with coronavirus symptoms days later. She was 65 years old, arrived in Italy on January 23 and by january 29 she was admitted to an isolation unit with dry cough, sore throat, stuffy nose and conjunctivitis (both eyes) . She tested positive . 

Dr. Vicente Diaz, a Yale Ophthalmologist warned that many viral illnesses can affect your eyes, typically causing a follicular type of conjunctivitis. 

Eyecare Services during this Pandemic COVID-19 

So as to minimize or stop the transmission of this pandemic, Eye care professional asked patients not to visit eye hospitals or eye centers during this pandemic except emergencies such as 

  • Severe Eye Pain 
  • Redness, Discharge 
  • Ocular Trauma 
  • Sudden loss of vision 
  • Surgery Follow-up 

For other conditions like if you are having diabetic retinopathy or Age-related macular degeneration and getting regular eye injections, and in case if you notice any changes in vision, you can call your specialist for proper guidance. 

How to protect your eyes during this pandemic? 

As you are following safety measures like washing hands, maintaining social distance in this pandemic , it will be best if you follow the mentioned points.

If you are Contact Lens wearer, Wear Spectacle Now 

It will be more beneficial if you shift to the spectacle, if you are using a contact lens. Generally, CL wearers tend to touch eyes more than the average person, which can increase the risk of spreading. American Academy of Ophthalmology also recommends shifting to glass if you are a CL wearer.

If you are strongly recommended to wear contact lenses, you should strictly require to follow the advice which your specialist recommends.

Stock up your eye medications 

Patients are advised to stock up on critical medicines, so that you will have enough to get if supply becomes limited. If your insurance allows you to get more than a month of essential medicines such as glaucoma drops, you can do so . This may not be possible for everyone. 

Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes

Knowingly or unknowingly we all do this. It can be quite challenging for us to break this habit but if we succeed to break this habit, we can decrease the risk of infection. If you feel you have to rub your eyes better use tissue rather than finger. If you have dry eyes, you are gonna rub your eyes a lot. So better use lubricating drops to your eye routine. 

How COVID-19 is diagnosed? 

Health care professionals diagnose coronavirus by performing various lab tests of respiratory or blood samples or other body fluids. 

Two kinds of tests are available for COVID-19:

  • viral test: It tells you if you have a current infection.
  • antibody test: It tells you if you had a previous infection

How can you reduce your risk of getting infected? 

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water at least for 20 seconds.
  • Reduce exposure or maintain social distance
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue while sneezing or coughing 
  • Use face masks

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