Evaluation of Conjunctival Swab PCR Results in Patients with SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Ocul Immunol Inflamm. 2020 Jul 3;28(5):745-748. doi: 10.1080/09273948.2020.1775261. Epub 2020 Jun 22.


Purpose: The study objective was to identify severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA in conjunctival swabs from patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Methods: Forty patients who tested positive by real-time reverse transcription (rRT)-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs were enrolled. Conjunctival swabbing was used to collect the tear and conjunctival secretions of patients.

Results: Conjunctival swab rRT-PCR was positive for three patients and negative for 37 patients. Ten of the patients (25%) were diagnosed with conjunctivitis during the ophthalmic examination. Of these patients, one was found positive by conjunctival swab rRT-PCR, and nine were found negative. The difference between patients who tested positive or negative using conjunctival swab rRT-PCR was without statistical significance in terms of the presence of conjunctivitis (p = .720).

Conclusion: The rate of positivity from conjunctival swab rRT-PCR was 7.5% in patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; conjunctival swab; ocular disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Betacoronavirus* / genetics
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Conjunctiva / virology*
  • Conjunctivitis, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Eye Infections, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Eye Infections, Viral / virology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Specimen Handling / methods
  • Tears / virology


  • RNA, Viral