Coronavirus 4 min read

COVID Related Eye Problems

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Could your eyes indicate you are positive with a case of COVID-19?

COVID-19 could cause itchy eyes, sore eyes and sensitivity to light within your body. Although doctors and scientists are still researching and investigating the effects Coronavirus can have on our eyes, some interesting studies have highlighted common eye issues found amongst COVID-19 patients.

These symptoms include burning eyes, red eyes, sore eyes, puffy eyes, and watery eyes. However, it is important to note that while these symptoms were present during infection of COVID-19, they may have been caused by something else.

Are Conjunctivitis and Coronavirus linked?

According to a study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, conjunctivitis has been found in 1% - 3% of adults with a positive case of COVID-19. This is a common eye infection, which causes inflammation and redness, hence why many know this as ‘pink eye’. Whether you are COVID positive or not, a case of viral conjunctivitis should be taken seriously and make efforts to prevent this from spreading.

Symptoms of viral conjunctivitis include:

  • Burning eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity)

Since COVID can spread through the eyes, many healthcare professionals have advised wearing eye protection like goggles.

Runny eyes and COVID-19

In some studies of COVID-19 cases, cases of increased eye secretion have been identified. This could be a possibly COVID-19 symptom. Most people have described this as having runny eyes, and others have said their eyes had felt ‘goopy’ or ‘gooey’, describing the eye discharge they are experiencing more frequently with their case of COVID-19.

However, it is important to note that this is not always a symptom of COVID-19 and can be very normal. Eye discharge plays an integral part in keeping our eyes healthy, so this isn’t always something to be concerned about. If you have excessive eye discharge or change in colour or consistency, this could also be a sign of conjunctivitis and many other eye infections. It is essential to speak to a health care professional if you are unsure and require treatment. Your optician can often provide eye drops or other treatments for eye infections.

Find your local optician today >

Man with red, sore eyes due to conjunctivitis

Eye Swelling a sign of COVID-19?

Eye swelling is a common symptom of conjunctivitis and could also be a sign of chemosis. A very small study of 38 COVID-19 patients found that chemosis was also present. This is described as the swelling of the conjunctiva, which is the thin membrane covering the front of your eye and the insides of the eyelids.

Other symptoms of chemosis include:

  • Red eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Puffy eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Sensations of having something in your eye

As coronavirus research is ongoing, doctors continue to learn about the link between this and eye conditions, so it is still early to assume there is a connection between Coronavirus and chemosis.

Watery or teary eyes and coronavirus

The same study found some positive coronavirus patients experiencing epiphora, also known as watery eyes. However, this has not been confirmed as a conclusive symptom of Coronavirus.

The symptoms of epiphora: 

Those who have epiphora will experience an overflow of tears from the eyes along with other symptoms, including:

  • Redness
  • Soreness
  • Sharp pain
  • Swelling of the eyelid
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity

This can be caused by a range of conditions, including:

  • Bacterial keratitis
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Eye infections
  • Glaucoma
  • Macular degeneration
  • Allergies

You can ease these symptoms with the use of antihistamines, cool compresses, changing contact lenses and taking a break from staring at screens.

Contact your local optician for more information >

Woman administering eye drops to relief symptoms

Eye Twitching and Coronavirus

Eye twitching has not been identified as a symptom of COVID-19. After 12 studies on the symptoms of COVID-19, however, COVID-19 has been shown to cause neurological symptoms in some patients, such as facial spasms, which could cause eye twitching.

What is eye twitching (myokymia)?

An eye twitch is an uncontrollable spasm of the eyelid. This can occur for several reasons, such as allergies, caffeine consumption, dry eyes, stress. Often this will go away on its own. If this does persist, you should see an eye doctor.

Not all eye problems linked to COVID-19

Although some studies have encountered COVID-positive patients with eye problems, these are not necessarily directly linked to one another. It could just be a coincidence that eye issues have been reported simultaneously as a patient having a positive case of COVID-19.

If you have been experiencing any eye conditions mentioned and require treatment, it is essential you seek advice and guidance from your eye health care provider.

Find your local Essilor optician with our handy optician finder.

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