New Finding: The Coronavirus Can Infect The Eyes
Updated: Feb 4
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2). COVID-19 primarily infects the lungs. However, there have been suspicions that the coronavirus can infect the eyes as well, but it is only recently that direct evidence has been found.
This evidence is based on a patient in China who suffered from acute angle-closure glaucoma just after their recovery from COVID-19. Acute angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the pressure in the eyes rises as a result of fluid build-up. Since the patient’s doctors were not able to bring the eye pressure down, they had to perform surgery, and during the process, they also collected eye tissue samples. After analyzing the tissues, tests showed that SARS-COV-2 had invaded the eye tissues.
However, there are still many uncertainties revolving around this case—whether or not the virus can be directly contracted through the eyes is still uncertain, and so is the impact that the virus has on ocular health as it lingers in the eye tissues. Moreover, Dr. Grace Richter, an ophthalmologist, is unsure about whether or not COVID-19 directly caused the patient’s condition. Medications are also known to trigger acute angle-closure glaucoma, so since the patient was initially hospitalized when contracting COVID-19, they may have received different medications at the hospital that could have caused the condition. Further research is needed to find the answers to these unresolved questions.
Although the method is currently unclear, one thing is certain: the coronavirus can infect the eyes. This finding has promise in the scientific environment, as it incentivizes further research on eye infections caused by COVID-19. Experts agree that this case highlights the importance of ocular health and eye protection during this pandemic. This means that health care providers and other frontline workers should wear goggles and other PPE around their faces, and that everyone should practice regularly washing their hands and should avoid touching their eyes. By taking these precautions during this pandemic, the possibility of COVID-19 infecting the eyes will be reduced.