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New Coronavirus Can Infect Your Eyes as Well

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 9, 2020 (HealthDay News) — COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory infection, however consultants have suspected the virus also can infiltrate the eyes. Now, scientists have extra direct proof of it.

The findings are primarily based on a affected person in China who developed an acute glaucoma assault quickly after recovering from COVID-19. Her medical doctors needed to carry out surgery to deal with the situation, and assessments of her eye tissue confirmed proof of SARS-CoV-2.

The case provides proof that “SARS-CoV-2 can also infect ocular tissues in addition to the respiratory system,” the medical doctors reported within the Oct. eight on-line version of the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

“It’s been suspected that the eyes can be a source of both ‘in’ and ‘out”” for the novel coronavirus, mentioned Dr. Aaron Glatt, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

That’s why well being care staff shield their eyes with goggles or face shields, he famous.

It’s not attainable to say whether or not the affected person on this case contracted SARS-CoV-2 by way of her eyes, in response to Glatt. But that may be a risk — whether or not by viral particles within the air or by touching her eyes with a virus-contaminated hand, he mentioned.

Another huge unknown is whether or not any lingering virus in sufferers’ eye tissue will trigger issues.

According to Dr. Grace Richter, an ophthalmologist on the University of Southern California’s Roski Eye Institute in Los Angeles, “It’s too early to know what having this virus floating around in the eye means for ocular health.”

At this level, Richter mentioned, restricted eye issues have been seen with COVID-19: A small variety of sufferers develop conjunctivitis (“pink eye”), the place the white a part of the attention and inside the eyelid change into swollen, crimson and itchy.

The affected person on this case suffered acute angle-closure glaucoma — a severe situation through which strain within the eyes all of a sudden rises on account of fluid buildup. It requires immediate therapy to alleviate the strain, generally with surgery to revive the attention’s regular fluid motion.

Richter was uncertain the coronavirus straight prompted the attention complication. In basic, sure anatomical options of the attention make some individuals weak to acute angle-closure glaucoma, and it may be triggered by drugs, she defined.


Richter speculated that for the reason that affected person was hospitalized and certain obtained varied medication, that may have been the trigger.

That is feasible, agreed Dr. Sonal Tuli, a medical spokeswoman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and chairwoman of ophthalmology on the University of Florida College of Medicine, in Gainesville.

Tuli mentioned the affected person’s case is “interesting,” however leaves open plenty of questions. One is whether or not the virus current within the eye tissue is definitely infectious.

The affected person was a 64-year-old girl who was hospitalized for COVID-19 on Jan. 31. Eighteen days later, her signs had totally resolved, and throat swabs turned up unfavorable for SARS-CoV-2.

About per week later, although, she developed ache and imaginative and prescient loss in a single eye, after which in her different eye a number of days afterward, in response to the report by Dr. Ying Yan and colleagues on the General Hospital of the Central Theater Command in Wuhan, China.

The affected person landed within the hospital once more, the place she was recognized with acute angle-closure glaucoma and cataract. Medication didn’t carry down her eye strain, so her medical doctors carried out surgery — taking tissue samples within the course of.

Tests of these samples turned up proof that SARS-CoV-2 had invaded the attention tissues, Yan’s crew reported.

While it is not clear how the virus acquired into the affected person’s eyes, the consultants agreed the case underscores the significance of eye safety. For well being care suppliers, which means goggles and face shields; for the common individual, it is common hand-washing and preserving the fingers away from the eyes.

“I think people don’t realize how often they touch their eyes,” Tuli mentioned.

That recommendation will cut back the possibility of any virus, together with chilly and flu bugs, from coming into contact with the eyes, she famous.

While that could be sufficient normally, individuals caring for somebody with COVID-19 at house might need to be additional cautious, Tuli steered. Wearing eye safety along with a masks is a “good idea,” she mentioned.

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