Fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste and smell — these are some of the most commonly discussed symptoms of COVID-19. What you might not know, however, is that the primarily respiratory virus can also manifest itself in your eyes. According to new research, there is a somewhat common ocular symptom that some coronavirus patients are reporting—in fact, a new study calls it “the most significant ocular symptom experienced by people with COVID-19.”
“Sore Eyes” Are the Most Common Ocular Ailment of Coronavirus
The study, published this week in BMJ Open Ophthalmology, found that sore eyes are the most common ocular ailment of coronavirus. Previous studies have established that COVID-19 can manifest itself in the eyes, including conjunctival discharge, eye rubbing, conjunctival congestion, and even pink eye. While other symptoms may be more important, researchers note that the “type, frequency, and ocular transmission of the virus must not be ignored, especially as the eye has been recognized as one of the organs through which the virus might enter the body.”
According to the study, ocular symptoms impact 4% to 31% of those with COVID-19 but are possibly underreported as they are not quite as severe as other symptoms.
Researchers developed an extensive questionnaire targeted at those who tested positive for the virus. Of all symptoms, the most reported were dry cough (66%), fever (76%), fatigue (90%) and loss of smell/taste (70%). In terms of ocular symptoms, 18% reported photophobia, 16% sore eyes, and 17% and itchy eyes. People most commonly reported sore eyes during their infection (16%) than prior to it (5%). Additionally, 81% of participants reported to have experienced ocular symptoms within 2 weeks of other COVID-19 symptoms, with 80% reporting they lasted for less than 2 weeks.
“While it is important that ocular symptoms are included in the list of possible COVID-19 symptoms, we argue that sore eyes should replace ‘conjunctivitis’ as it is important to differentiate from symptoms of other types of infections, such as bacterial infections, which manifest as mucous discharge or gritty eyes,” the authors concluded.
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, follow Dr. Anthony Fauci’s fundamentals and help end this surge, no matter where you live—wear a face mask, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others.