Blog written by: Dhrithi Bhat
Although eye symptoms are rare in COVID-19, conjunctivitis (or conjunctivitis) and keratitis have been found to be common.
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the clear membrane that lines the eyelids and eyeballs, while keratitis is an inflammation of the cornea. When the small blood vessels in the conjunctiva are swollen and irritated, they become more visible. This is what makes the whites of your eyes appear red or pink.
A new substrain of COVID, XBB.1.16 "Arcturus", is suspected of causing conjunctivitis in children. However, eye symptoms alone are not necessarily a sign of the virus, but they can be a warning if they occur with other symptoms such as fever or cold.
Conjunctivitis can be the first symptom that a person experiences or the only symptom they have. A retrospective study analyzed the presenting symptoms and COVID-19 confirmatory test results, and conjunctivitis was observed to be a symptom of COVID-19 and sometimes the first sign of infection before the onset of classical manifestations. Such patients may continue to be a viral reservoir.
Pink eye or conjunctivitis can also occur in adult patients with coronavirus, but it is much less common, at a rate of 1% to 3%.
Conjunctivitis can have many causes, including viral, bacterial, or allergen-induced conjunctivitis. Viral conjunctivitis is the most common type and can be caused by several viruses, such as adenovirus, rubella virus, rubella virus, herpes virus, and picornavirus.
Therefore, conjunctivitis does not necessarily indicate COVID-19 infection and requires a swab to confirm. It is unlikely that the virus caused conjunctivitis unless you were exposed to COVID-19 and did not attend large social gatherings. However, if you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, doctors should not overlook unilateral conjunctivitis, which may be the only symptom of COVID-19 in the early stages. Timely detection and treatment can help stop the spread of the virus.