May 2020


Covid-19 News You Can Use
Ocular manifestations of coronavirus

Though the incidence of ocular findings as an initial COVID-19 indicator is low (0.8% of patients with the viral disease had ocular signs1), there are some ocular manifestations to look out for.
For coronaviruses in general, Francis Mah, MD, Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, California, said this group of viruses can cause a very non-specific conjunctivitis. There are different ways that the conjunctivitis has been described in the literature, he added.
Sometimes it is called a “congestion or congested conjunctiva,” and most of the time a viral conjunctivitis is follicular. Some have described it as patients having chemosis (swelling of the conjunctiva or fluid underneath it), he said. There could also be some hyperemia.
Many have asked if COVID-19 can be transmitted to someone through this conjunctivitis. According to the papers out there, Dr. Mah said, unless the patient has eye findings associated with a conjunctivitis as part of their COVID-19, the majority of patients are showing that they are not culture positive in their tears. If the patient has COVID-19 but doesn’t have ocular signs and symptoms, there’s most likely not going to be virus in the tears. However, if the patient does have ocular symptoms, there is a chance that ocular secretions could be a viral vector, he said.
The CDC, as well as AAO and ASCRS, have information and links to resources for ophthalmologists on the topic, Dr. Mah added. If you are seeing patients, wearing a mask of any sort, gloves, and goggles/glasses is recommended. In Dr. Mah’s practice, they have outfitted the slit lamps with large plastic shields to further protect physicians and patients from possible transmission.


1. Guan WJ, et al. Clinical characteristics of coronavirus disease 2019 in China. N Engl J Med. 2020. Epub ahead of print.



Ocular manifestations of coronavirus Ocular manifestations of coronavirus
Ophthalmology News - EyeWorld Magazine
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