In addition to coughing and a fever, other potential COVID-19 symptoms are now being reported including a loss of smell, purple toes, vomiting and diarrhoea. A leading figure helping China fight the SARS epidemic back in 2013 who caught the virus himself, believed he became infected as he was not wearing the appropriate protective eyewear. Wang Guagnfa said at the beginning of the year he believed the virus is spread through the eyes and with more and more reports of eye issues, could he be correct? And if so, what colour does the eye turn, warning you may be infected with COVID-19?
Researchers in China also declared the virus may be spread by tears with COVID-19 leading to pink eyes.
Of 38 patients with the virus, a dozen also had pink eyes, a new study found.
In two patients, the coronavirus was present in both nasal and eye fluids.
Dr Liang Liang, researcher in the ophthalmology department at China Three Gorges University in Yichang, said: “Some COVID-19 patients have ocular symptoms and maybe novel coronaviruses are presents in the conjunctival secretions of patients with COVID-19.”
Coronavirus symptoms: The ocular symptoms being reported in COVID-19 patients
Mr Wang said: “At that time when we were fighting the SARS virus, we were highly vigilant and wore N95 masks.
“But then suddenly I realised that we didn’t wear protective glasses.”
Mr Wang began to develop conjunctivitis in his left eye after retiring to Beijing and three hours later he began to develop a fever and severe catarrh.
What is pink eye?
Mayo Clinic said: “Pink eye (conjunctivitis) is an inflammation or infection of the transparent membrane (conjunctiva) that lines your eyelid and covers the white part of your eyeball.
“When small blood vessels in the conjunctiva become inflamed, they’re more visible.
“This is what causes the whites of your eyes to appear reddish or pink.
“Pink eye is commonly caused by a bacterial or viral infection, an allergic reaction, or an incompletely opened tear duct.”
Coronavirus symptoms: Pink eye or conjunctiva being reported in patients
Is the virus spread through the eyes?
A team of researchers led by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine noted the eyes create ACE-2, which makes them a target for the deadly virus.
It means if droplets from an infected person’s sneeze or cough were to reach the tissue of the eye, the virus could begin infiltrating cells there.
This may be the reason why, in some cases, the patient has developed conjunctivitis.
Tears may also spread the infection, the scientists noted.
How to protect your eyes
Dr Lyndon Jones, Director for Ocular Research and Education (CORE) at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada said: “Hygiene is critical – wash your hands with soap and water, dry them thoroughly and keep unwashed hands away from your face.
“Contact lens wearers can rest assured that there is no scientific evidence to suggest they are more at risk of developing COVID-19 than a spectacle wearer or someone who doesn’t need glasses.
“They should insert and remove their contacts with clean hands, keep their lenses and case clean and regularly replace both as advised by their eye care professional.
“Keep spectacles and sunglasses clean by regularly washing them with soapy water and drying them with a disposable paper towel.”