Since the outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19 in late 2019, it has soon become one of the deadliest infections we have witnessed recently. Common symptoms of Covid-19 are fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Studies have found that pink eyes are a rare symptom of COVID-19. Studies also state that Covid-19 conjunctivitis is more common in people with severe infection than those with mild infection. Around 1% to 3% of people infected by COVID-19 can have symptoms of conjunctivitis.
What is Conjunctivitis?
Conjunctivitis, also referred to as pink eye, is an inflammation where the conjunctiva is infected. Conjunctiva is a transparent membrane that covers your eyelid and the white portion of your eyes. Pink eyes cause the transparent membrane to turn into reddish or pink due to infection, hence the name pink eye.
Pink eyes do not affect our vision, but can be irritating at times. Early treatment of conjunctivitis is necessary as it is a contagious disease. It is usually a result of bacterial or viral infection, and in this case, due to coronavirus.
How does the COVID-19 conjunctivitis spread?
The coronavirus spreads through droplets, and the primary source of spread is when an infected person sneezes or coughs. When an infected person ejects the droplets, they fall on a surface. That’s where the secondary source of the coronavirus spread comes in, which is by touching common surfaces.
COVID-19 conjunctivitis can spread through both means. The SARS-CoV-2 virus can directly enter into your eyes or when you hold any surface and then touch your eyes. Hence, it is of utmost importance to wash your hands before touching any part of your face, including eyes.
If you are having pink eyes and COVID-19, you can also spread the virus if you rub eyes and then come in contact with someone or some surface.
What are the symptoms of conjunctivitis caused by COVID-19?
COVID-19 conjunctivitis symptoms are the same as those for normal pink eyes, except that they are accompanied by COVID-19 symptoms. Some of the common symptoms of pink eyes include:
● Red or pink color in either or both eyes
● Itchiness and irritation in either or both eyes
● Foreign body sensation (something is stuck) in eyes
● Swollen eyes
● Difficulty opening the eyes during the morning or after sleep
When to see a doctor for COVID-19 conjunctivitis?
It is advisable to visit a doctor if you see any symptoms of COVID-19 conjunctivitis. However, before heading to the doctor, you should call them and take suitable COVID -19 safety precautions .
Your doctor might be able to prescribe some treatment for pink eyes on a video call, avoiding the need to go to the clinic or hospital. You can then wait for a few days to see if the symptoms subside .
If you are still not feeling any better, it is best to make an appointment and visit your doctor for a detailed diagnosis and check-up.
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What are the precautions for preventing COVID-19 conjunctivitis?
Several precautions can help you prevent getting infected by COVID-19 conjunctivitis. Most of the precautions are changes that are easy to implement. The precautions listed below can also help reduce the spread from you if you are the one who is infected by the coronavirus and experiencing pink eyes.
Follow the Basic COVID-19 Guidelines
Here are the guidelines that you need to follow during the coronavirus outbreak:
● Wash your hands before touching your face and avoid touching the face unnecessarily .
● Sanitize your hands and other common handheld surfaces frequently.
● Always wear a mask or face shield.
Eyeglasses can act as an extra layer of protection. This will prevent the virus droplets from entering your eyes and causing pink eyes. The eyeglasses will also help keep your hands off your eyes.
Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes
Whether you are infected or not, avoid touching your eyes with your hands. If you need to touch your eyes, always wash your hands before and after. You can also use tissues for cleaning off any particles or irritants from your eyes.
Avoid Using Contact Lenses
Contact lenses irritate the eyes, especially if they are worn for an extended period. This might create an urge to rub your eyes. Hence, if you use contact lenses, consider using eyeglasses for a while.
Clean Eyelids With a Cloth
Cleaning eyelids can help wash the virus or bacteria off , if it’s residing on the surface of the conjunctiva. It will also reduce irritation and provide relaxation to your eyes.
Summing it up
Pink eyes are not a common symptom of coronavirus, but you should still be aware of it. Knowing the common signs and precautions can help you prevent yourself from getting affected by COVID-19 conjunctivitis.
Since pink eyes can be a symptom of COVID-19, it is best to consult your doctor as soon as possible. This will help the doctor diagnose any condition quickly before it turns into a complication.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. If I have pink eyes, does it mean that I am COVID positive?
No, pink eyes are just a rare symptom of coronavirus. Having pink eyes does not necessarily mean that you are suffering from COVID-19.
2. Do pink eyes have any major complications?
There are no significant complications of pink eyes, except that if not treated for the long-term, they may lead to infection in the cornea causing blurred vision. The condition can be treated easily; however, in the case of COVID-19 conjunctivitis, the presence of coronavirus can lead to other symptoms and complications.
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