In the current scenario coronavirus disease (covid-19) is an infectious disease which is highly transmissible. It is very important to know how corona virus affects our eyes and what are the precautions to be followed.

Apart from fever, some of the clinical features include dry cough, sputum production, fatigue, arthralgia, diarrhea, shortness of breath along with chest radiographic abnormalities, conjunctivitis has
also been reported in 1-2% as one of the minor symptoms. The virus primarily spreads via person-to-person through respiratory droplet produce when the infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread
if the person touch the surface with virus present from infected person and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes. Symptoms of corona virus can appear within 2-24 days after a person is exposed and 97% will
have fever and show symptoms within 2 weeks.

How coronavirus affects our eye?

Coronavirus can spread through the eyes just as it does through mouth and nose. When the infected person coughs or sneezes the virus can spray from their nose and mouth on to our face. We are likely to
breathe those tiny droplets and hence the virus enters into our respiratory tract. The same way virus can also enter into our body through our eyes. When the person touches the contaminated surface and then touches their eye they are likely to get infection. The virus
from the eye travels to mouth and then into the respiratory tract via nasolacrimal duct which connects eyes and nose. Studies have shown that coronavirus can cause conjunctivitis or pink eye which is rare.

COVID 19 eye infection

How can we protect our eyes during covid-19?

 Touching and rubbing eyes must be avoided since unwashed hands are the source of viral contamination. Follow the proper hand wash technique with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
 Nose and mouth should be fully covered with elbow or tissue during coughing or sneezing.
 Mask should be worn while going outside or to the crowded area.
 Consider wearing glasses instead of contact lenses for a while since glasses may act as barrier that reminds us not to touch our eyes and reduces irritation in contact lens wearer. Corrective lenses or sunglasses can shield our eyes from infected respiratory droplets. But they don’t provide 100% security since the virus can still reach our eyes from the open sides, tops, and bottoms of our glasses. For
better protection we can use safety goggles and face shield should be worn for full facial protection.
 If we must have to wear contact lenses then proper care regimen should be followed, not only to reduce viral transmission, but appropriate hygiene also help to prevent infectious eye disease caused by other micro organisms.
 If we are using necessary eye medicine (like glaucoma drops) then ask your pharmacist or ophthalmologist to provide medicine for more than one month or two.

During covid-19 pandemic we might feel frightened
to visit hospitals or eye clinics even though we need to receive health care service. Some of the eye care clinics are continuing to offer “ virtual” telemedicine visits over the phone or through video chat on a computer or smart phone. Whereas other clinics/hospitals are following safety measures like PPE, social distancing, hand washing, waiting room etiquette, exam room and OT precautions,separate isolated consultation room for conjunctivitis and covid-19patient (suspected and proven).

This post is written by kalpana bhandari ( vision specialist )

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