Ophthalmic Manifestations of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2024 Jan.


Beginning in December 2019, COVID-19 developed into a global pandemic caused by the highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2. Numerous anecdotal and published reports initially indicated eye redness and irritation in patients with COVID-19, supporting conjunctivitis as an ocular manifestation of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Ongoing reports reveal associations between COVID-19 and uveitic, retinovascular, and neuro-ophthalmic disease.

During the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, a study identified SARS-CoV in tear samples collected in Singapore from patients with SARS. The absence of eye protection emerged as a primary risk factor for SARS-CoV transmission from patients to healthcare workers in Toronto, raising concerns about the potential for respiratory illnesses to be transmitted through ocular secretions. Similar concerns have been expressed regarding SARS-CoV-2, particularly among eye care providers and frontline personnel responsible for assessing patients with the potential initial symptoms of COVID-19.

Dr Li Wenliang, an opthalmologist, was among the first to express apprehensions about the coronavirus transmission in Chinese patients. Unfortunately, he succumbed to COVID-19, and it was suspected that he contracted the virus from an asymptomatic glaucoma patient in his clinic.

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