Can eye symptoms signal a COVID-19 infection?

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Bottom Line:

Ocular symptoms (i.e. problems related to the eyes) are common and may even appear before the onset of respiratory symptoms in COVID-19 positive patients.


Hong, N. et al. (2020). Evaluation of ocular symptoms and tropism of SARS‐Cov‐2 in patients confirmed with COVID‐19. Acta Ophthalmologica

Date Published:

26 April 2020


Some commonly known symptoms presented in COVID-19 patients include: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. However, this study has shown that ocular symptoms (problems affecting the eyes) can equally be observed in patients who have the virus. In this study, there were 15 (27%) out of 56 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 who reported worsening of their eye symptoms (sore eyes, itching, tearing, dry eyes and redness) after the start of their infection. There were 6 patients (11%) who had these eye symptoms before respiratory symptoms. The researchers think that the eyes could serve as an entry point into the lungs which explains why certain patients may have eye symptoms before respiratory symptoms. This early study suggests that eye symptoms can not only serve as a tool to diagnose COVID-19, but also highlights the importance of eye protection as a preventative measure.

Summary by: Edwin Wong