Your eyes. They are one of the most precious organs in your body. You need to constantly protect them from anything that can damage them unnecessarily, be it work hazards, dangers from engaging in amateur sports activities, or even disease. To make certain that your eyes are in their best possible shape, you might visit an optometrist once per year. You might also where protective eye gear when the situation calls for it.
But what about the affects of COVID-19 on your eyes? While we know a lot about how the virus affects the lungs, the heart, and even your short-term memory, little is known about the negative affects it can have on your eyesight. Says a recent article on the subject, with information changing daily regarding the COVID-19 viral pandemic, little attention has been paid to one our more complex body parts: the eyes.
Here is what the experts are saying about how COVID-19 is affecting your eyes.
Can You Get COVID-19 Via the Eyes?
According to doctors at the Cornea & Refractive Surgery Fellowship at the USC Gayle and Edward Roski Eye Institute, ocular transmission of the virus has not been thoroughly studied. Butit’s been proven that mucus membranes such as those found in the respiratory tract, are said to be susceptible to both COVID-19 and most viruses.
It just so happens that the surface of the eyelids and the eye itself are also lined with mucus membranes which are known as conjunctiva. It only makes sense then that if infected droplets of the virus land in your eye, it’s possible you will get the infection.
That said, it’s still believed among medical professionals that the main mode of transmission remains respiratory in nature.
Can Frequent Cleaning of the Eyes Decrease Chance of Infection?
The surface of the eye is said to have built-in protective mechanisms that include antimicrobial proteins and tears that already protect the eye. It stands to reason then that you don’t need to flush the eye with an over-the-counter protective solution. If anything, this might dilute the eye’s own ability to fight off infection.
Whenever your eyes become red and/or irritated, you can use an over-the-counter solution like Clear Eyes for relief. But this will not prevent you from getting COVID-19.
Do You Have a Higher Risk of Infection if You Wear Contact Lenses?
So long as you practice proper hygiene including frequent washing of the hands, there is said to be no evidence that contact lens wearers are more susceptible to the getting the virus. But you should keep in mind that contact lens wearers touch their eyes more often, so it’s not a crazy notion to consider switching to eyeglasses for the duration of the pandemic just to be safe.
Eyeglasses will also make your eyes less irritable in general, while serving as a kind of barrier that will cause you to think twice before placing your fingers to your eyes.
Is Pink Eye a Sign that You Have Coronavirus?
The truth about pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is that it can indeed be an early sign of COVID-19 infection. But at this time, it is still not clear exactly what percentage of virus sufferers “have ocular manifestations.” Thus far, different sources are all coming up with different numbers.
However, a new JAMA Ophthalmology study states that up to one-third of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are said to have suffered from “ocular abnormalities.” But the study also goes on to point out that much more study needs to be done. Naturally, non-COVID-19 related pink eye will persist regardless of the pandemic.
Can COVID-19 Cause Permanent Damage to Your Eyesight?
While pink eye has been linked to coronavirus, there have been no reports of permanent damage to the eyes or your eyesight. However, if a COVID-19 infected patient were to suffer severe respiratory problems for a long enough time, it’s possible oxygen deprivation could theoretically damage sensitive eye tissues such as the retina or even the optic nerve. Again, none of this has been clinically proven yet.
Can You Transmit COVID-19 With Your Tears?
Transmitting coronavirus via your tears and/or infected ocular tissues, is said to be a controversial subject. But novel coronavirus has been reported to be present in some tear samples. This means that is indeed possible to transmit the virus with your tears. However, the risk of that is, more than likely, low. But since the subject has not been studied thoroughly, no one really knows the infectivity rate infected tears truly pose at this time.