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How coronavirus affects your eyes

By Essilor News

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has said that it is possible for the coronavirus to produce conjunctivitis. However, the group says the eye infection only shows up in 1% to 3% of COVID-19 patients.

There are a number of things that can cause conjunctivitis, including:

  • Swelling of the eyelids or the conjunctiva — the thin layer that covers the whites of the eyes and the inside of the eyelid.
  • The whites of the eyes appear pink or red.
  • Increased tear production or discharge.
  • Crusting of eyelids or eyelashes, particularly in the morning.
  • Itching, irritation or burning.

In cases in which conjunctivitis is an early symptom of the coronavirus, the condition typically begins in one eye and travels to the other eye within a few days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. It’s also said that COVID-19-related eye discharge typically has a watery consistency.

How allergies affect your eyes

Here’s where things may get a little tricky. According to the CDC, allergies also are capable of causing conjunctivitis. However, allergic conjunctivitis symptoms differ somewhat from viral conjunctivitis symptoms.

Allergic conjunctivitis typically affects both eyes concurrently and can cause them to itch, swell and tear up. It’s also common for thicker eye discharge to be present in conjunctivitis cases that are not related to coronavirus.

Conjunctivitis is typically diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam that can include:

  • Review of your symptoms.
  • Measurements to determine any eyesight damage.
  • Evaluation of your conjunctiva and external eye tissue.
  • Evaluation of the inner part of your eyes.

When you should see a doctor

During this time of uncertainty, note any noticeable changes in your health and your eyes. Knowing the differences between symptoms for allergies and coronavirus is a good start.

If you struggle with allergies or you exhibit symptoms of coronavirus, call your optician or your doctor.

And, of course, be vigilant about taking the steps necessary to stay healthy and avoid coronavirus. Wash your hands, stay at home, maintain your social distance when outside, and try to relax as we wait out the rest of the coronavirus storm.

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The information on this page is provided for information, consultation and educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be used as such. Essilor disclaims any liability or obligation that may arise from any errors or omissions in this information or from the use of any information or advice contained herein. Essilor encourages you to consult a qualified health care professional for a diagnosis or to answer any medical questions you may have. The statements contained herein are the sole responsibility of the author".