Evaluation of coronavirus in tears and conjunctival secretions of patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection

J Med Virol. 2020 Jun;92(6):589-594. doi: 10.1002/jmv.25725. Epub 2020 Mar 12.


Objective: This study aimed to assess the presence of novel coronavirus in tears and conjunctival secretions of SARS-CoV-2-infected patients.

Methods: A prospective interventional case series study was performed, and 30 confirmed novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) patients were selected at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University from 26 January 2020 to 9 February 2020. At an interval of 2 to 3 days, tear and conjunctival secretions were collected twice with disposable sampling swabs for reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay.

Results: Twenty-one common-type and nine severe-type NCP patients were enrolled. Two samples of tear and conjunctival secretions were obtained from the only one patient with conjunctivitis yielded positive RT-PCR results. Fifty-eight samples from other patents were all negative.

Conclusion: We speculate that SARS-CoV-2 may be detected in the tears and conjunctival secretions in NCP patients with conjunctivitis.

Keywords: coronavirus; horizontal transmission; infection.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Betacoronavirus / genetics*
  • Betacoronavirus / isolation & purification
  • Betacoronavirus / pathogenicity
  • Bodily Secretions / chemistry
  • Bodily Secretions / virology
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • China
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / methods
  • Conjunctiva / chemistry
  • Conjunctiva / virology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Tears / chemistry
  • Tears / virology*