Ocular surface manifestation of COVID-19 and tear film analysis

Sci Rep. 2020 Nov 19;10(1):20178. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-77194-9.


To evaluate the ocular manifestation in patients hospitalized with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and to search for the presence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in tears. This study was conducted in 29 hospitalized patients who were admitted to the COVID center at the Policlinic Hospital of the University of Messina, Italy. All patients underwent an ophthalmologic assessment comprising a Standardized Patient Evaluation of Eye Dryness (SPEED) questionnaire, anterior segment, and the ocular surface examination of both eyes using a portable slit lamp. The Schirmer I test was performed, and the filter paper strip was used to search for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 on the ocular surface by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). A total of 10 patients reported ocular symptoms; in particular, four reported eye burning, three reported foreign body sensation, and three reported tearing. Moreover, seven patients presented conjunctival hyperemia and/or chemosis, eleven patients presented blepharitis signs such as lid margin hyperemia and/or telangiectasia, crusted eyelashes, and meibomian orifices alterations. Tear analysis did not reveal the presence of SARS-CoV-2. Ocular symptoms are common in patients with COVID-19; although, tear analysis did not reveal the presence of SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / pathology
  • Conjunctival Diseases / epidemiology
  • Conjunctival Diseases / etiology*
  • Conjunctival Diseases / pathology
  • Corneal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Corneal Diseases / etiology*
  • Corneal Diseases / pathology
  • Eye / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male