Doctors say pink eye a potential symptom of COVID-19

Updated: Tue 1:11 PM, Mar 31, 2020

(Gray News) – The American Academy of Ophthalmology is recommending doctors take coronavirus precautions when dealing with patients, as several reports suggest the virus can cause conjunctivitis, or pink eye.

This illustration shows a person infected with pink eye. (Source: CDC)

While it is considered a rare symptom, studies show it is possible coronavirus could potentially be transmitted by aerosol contact with the eye.

One study showed only a single patient out of 30 in China had pink eye, but coronavirus was found in the person’s eye. A larger study showed nine out of 1,099 patients had documented “conjunctival congestion.”

While uncommon, the cases have prompted the organization to recommend doctors protect their nose, mouth and eyes when caring for patients potentially affected with COVID-19. Ophthalmologists are also recommended to ask if their patients have any fever or respiratory symptoms. Their travel history may also shine a light on whether the patient has been in an area where COVID-19 is more prevalent.

Ophthalmologists are suggested to have patients that have traveled to high-risk areas to speak to their primary care physician first.

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