What you need to know - Coronavirus & Eye Health


How does coronavirus spread? Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a novel (new) disease meaning there is no immunity to COVID-19. Health and medical experts are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness it causes and to what extent it may continue to spread in the United States. There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. According to the CDC, the virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person, particularly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). It can also spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects that have the virus on it by touching the surface and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

Can wearing glasses help protect my eyes from exposure? Standard glasses have not been proven to offer protection against COVID-19 or other viral transmissions. Safety glasses offer front and side protection and safety goggles offer splash protection that are helpful to protect against COVID-19.

Is conjunctivitis (pink eye) a symptom of coronavirus? Conjunctivitis can be a sign of COVID-19. Additionally, COVID-19 may also present with other ocular signs and symptoms such as extreme light sensitivity, irritation and watery discharge. These are self-limiting but may require supportive care. If you have persistent red eyes, contact your local doctor of optometry's office for accurate eye health guidance.

Can the virus be spread through tears? There is conflicting information regarding the expression of the virus in tears. However, it is clear in multiple medical reports from the epicenter of the breakout in Wuhan (Hubei Province), China where the virus originated, that in addition to the respiratory transmission potential, COVID-19 can be found in the tears and conjunctiva of patients that are positive for the virus with or without obvious conjunctivitis. In addition, it was reported while there is a low prevalence of COVID-19 in tears, it is possible to transmit via the tears.

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