Coronavirus and Your Eyes

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There is a lot that is still unknown about the coronavirus.  One thing we do know is that pink eye can be a symptom of the coronavirus.  And, we know that the coronavirus and pink eye have some similarities.

An Eye Related Symptom of Coronavirus – Pink Eye

Pink eye is another term for conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis refers to inflammation or infection of the outer eyeball and inner eyelid. Conjunctiva is the white part of the eyeball that you can see on either side of the iris (the colored part of the eye.). Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, refers to an inflammation of the conjunctiva.

There are four different types of conjunctivitis; viral, bacterial, allergic, and conjunctivitis caused by irritants.

  • Viral Conjunctivitis – Viral Conjunctivitis is highly contagious.  Symptoms include irritation, photophobia, and watery discharge.
  • Bacterial Conjunctivitis – Bacterial Conjunctivitis is usually characterized by excessive discharge from the eye.  A darker reddish color of the white part of the eye usually is associated with bacterial conjunctivitis. 
  • Allergic Conjunctivitis – Allergic conjunctivitis is an eye inflammation caused by an allergy to mold spores or pollen. 

      Acute Allergic Conjunctivitis – short term

      Chronic Allergic Conjunctivitis – year long, response to allergens like food, dust, animal dander

If you’ve had pink eye, you know that it causes some redness of the eye that is often accompanied by tearing of the eye and a yellow crusty discharge that coats the eyelashes after sleep.  Itching, burning and blurred vision are also some of the common symptoms of pink eye.

How Can You Get Pink Eye?

  1. Aerosol transmission from person to person.  If a person sneezes or coughs, and you are within 20 feet of that person who sneezed or coughed, you can catch it.  The droplets remain in the air for as long as 10 minutes.  The closer you were in proximity to that person, the greater your risk of contamination.
  2. Contact with a person who has Pink Eye. Shaking hands or having face to face contact with a person who has conjunctivitis is one way it can be spread from person to person.
  3. Touching contaminated surfaces.  Touching an object or surface that a person with pink eye has touched, and then touching your eyes before washing your hands thoroughly

How can you get Coronavirus?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tell us that COVID 19 is a new disease and we are still learning how it spreads, the severity of illness, and to what extent it may spread in the United States. 

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person.  People within 6 feet of each other are thought to spread it and through respiratory droplets produced from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. 

Coronavirus spreads from contact with contaminated surfaces. 

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community. 

Pink Eye is a symptom of Coronavirus.  It can present 2-14 days from the time of contamination.  1-3% of people who have tested positive for coronavirus had pink eye as a symptom.  Coronavirus is spread in all of the same ways that pink eye is spread. However, if you have pink eye, it doesn’t mean that you have coronavirus.  However, if your pink eye is accompanied by a fever, dry cough, tiredness, or have difficulty breathing, you’ll want to take precautions like putting yourself into quarantine for 14 days, and following the guidelines set by the CDC for getting healthy, and protecting others from the spread of the virus.

Ways to Minimize the Spread of Coronavirus

Since coronavirus and pink eye are spread in similar ways, the ways to minimize their spread are also similar. 

  1. Wash your hands – Wash your hands often, and spend some time washing them. Spend at least 20 seconds per wash. 
  2. Social distancing – When someone sneezes, talks, or coughs, particles of their saliva and mucus stay in the air for up to 10 minutes, and with a radius of 6 feet.  So, keep your distance from others. 
  3. Avoid touching your face.
  4. Stay home. 

Some Things to Consider

  1. Wear glasses or have LASIK instead of wearing contact lenses.  This will minimize your need to touch your eyes and face.
  2. Take advantage of telehealth for appointments that aren’t emergent. Most diagnoses of pink eye can be handled with a virtual appointment by an eye doctor. 
  3. Keep up your eyelid and lash hygiene with proper drops and lid scrubs.

Want to talk to a doctor? Call us and one of our team members will help you to schedule a time to talk to a doctor one-on-one online. The technology is not only user friendly but also insurance recognized.


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