Conjunctivitis in COVID-19 patients: frequency and clinical presentation

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2020 Nov;258(11):2501-2507. doi: 10.1007/s00417-020-04916-0. Epub 2020 Aug 29.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the frequency and clinical presentation of conjunctivitis in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted at the Hospital Clinico San Carlos of Madrid, Spain. A total of 301 subjects from the COVID admission unit with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were included. The presence and clinical characteristics of conjunctivitis were evaluated. Laboratory, radiological, and clinical results in patients with and without conjunctivitis stratified by sex were analyzed.

Results: Of the 301 subjects included, 180 patients (59.8%) were male and the median age was 72 years (IQ 59-82). Overall, 35 patients (11.6%) were diagnosed with acute conjunctivitis. We found no relationship between the COVID-19 severity score and the presence of conjunctivitis (P = 0.17). However, conjunctivitis was more frequent in males with moderate clinical severity and in women classified as clinically mild. The natural history of the disease seems to be a rapid self-limited conjunctivitis that improves without treatment and does not affect visual acuity nor associate short-term complications.

Conclusions: Approximately, 1 out of 10 hospitalized non-critical COVID-19 patients presents conjunctivitis during the disease. Compared with other viral conjunctivitis, we found distinctive clinical findings that could guide defining and differentiating conjunctivitis in COVID-19 patients.

Trial registration number: 20/336_E_COVID.

Keywords: COVID-19; Conjunctivitis; Coronavirus; Ocular; SARS-CoV-2.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Betacoronavirus / isolation & purification*
  • COVID-19
  • Conjunctivitis, Viral / diagnosis
  • Conjunctivitis, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eye Infections, Viral / diagnosis
  • Eye Infections, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Spain / epidemiology