Can COVID-19 Affect Your Eyes?

istock 1215728457 For the majority of 2020, the world has been grappling with understanding how to treat and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that erupted at the beginning of the year. At this point, it seems as though we may be dealing with this virus for some time. As more information is discovered, we are empowered to manage our health through various strategies. As it has come to our attention that a small percentage of people who get COVID-19 develop conjunctivitis, we want to discuss steps that may be taken to reduce this risk.

How COVID-19 Affects the Eyes

The primary symptoms of the novel coronavirus have been listed as fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. Experts believe that there are several ways the virus may be spread, including droplets from coughs and sneezes and from touching objects and then touching the face. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, conjunctivitis may develop through either of these two types of exposure.

The symptoms of conjunctivitis, also called pink eye, include excessive tearing, itching, redness, and a gritty sensation. The discharge from the eye may form a crust when the eyes are closed for a time. This can make it difficult to open the eye until the crust has been washed away. Pink eye is an infection of the conjunctiva, the transparent membrane that covers the white part of the eyeball as well as the inner part of the eyelid. Fortunately, this infection can be treated with eye drops or antibiotics prescribed by a doctor.

Pink eye may be a relatively benign concern for those facing a larger systemic infection. Still, yet one more symptom on top of others creates unnecessary stress. Therefore, it is wise to remind ourselves of the ways we can protect ourselves and others from the spread of this illness.

Tips include:

  • Frequent hand-washing with soap and water.
  • Use of hand sanitizer when going out for groceries or other needs.
  • Avoid coughing or sneezing into a hand. Cover them with the elbow instead.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces with disinfectant daily.
  • To reduce the risk of getting pink eye:
  • Switch from contact lenses to eyeglasses to minimize touching the eyes.
  • Wear eyeglasses or sunglasses regularly as a way to shield the eyes from respiratory droplets.
  • Create a habit of using a tissue, rather than the fingers, to touch the eyes.
  • Stock up on eye medications, if necessary.

We are proud to offer friendly, professional eye services in Winchester, VA. To schedule a visit, call (540) 722-6200.


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