What kinds of eye symptoms can be caused by COVID-19?

Bottom Line:

Eye symptoms of COVID-19 can include excessive watering (epiphora), conjunctival congestion, and swelling (chemosis), according to a study of 38 patients from the Hubei province in China. Patients with these eye symptoms generally had more severe accompanying systemic symptoms.


Wu, P. et al. Characteristics of Ocular Findings of Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Hubei Province, China. JAMA Ophthalmology (2020). DOI: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2020.1291

Date Published:

31 March 2020


This study looked at 38 clinically-confirmed COVID-19 patients in the province of Hubei, China and found that 32% had disease manifestations in the eye. These symptoms included conjunctival hyperemia, chemosis, epiphora, and increased secretions. These patients tended to have more severe systemic manifestations, and more significantly abnormal blood test values including white blood cell and neutrophil counts. Of patients with ocular manifestations, 92% tested positive for COVID-19 on nasopharyngeal swabs, and 17% tested positive on both conjunctival and nasopharyngeal swabs. This knowledge can help us to better recognize and diagnose COVID-19 in patients and prevent its transmission.

Summary by: Tatiana Yeuchyk