If you are having a viral infection , a common symptom is conjunctivitis. Its where the whites of the eyes become watery, red, and occasionally swollen. This symptom can be true for the flu, herpes, and now possibly COVID19. Along with conjunctivitis as a symptom, the COVID19 virus might also be transmitted via tears.
" In a Journal of Medical Virology study of 30 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in China, 1 had conjunctivitis. That patient [...] had SARS-CoV-2 RNA in ocular secretions. This suggests that SARS-CoV-2 might [...] be present in tears of COVID-19 patients with conjunctivitis.
In a retrospective case series published March 31 in JAMA Ophthalmology, 12 of 38 “clinically confirmed” hospitalized cases of COVID-19 [...] had ocular "abnormalities," [...]. Two patients had a positive [test] for SARS-CoV-2 RNA, one with signs of [redness] and the other with [swelling and wateriness]. This paper was discussed in the New England Journal of Medicine Journal Watch, which stated that “a third [of patients in the JAMA Ophthalmology paper] had conjunctivitis.” We disagree with the latter characterization; [swelling] in a critically ill patient most likely represents third-spacing or fluid overload, not conjunctivitis.
Two preprint studies posted on MedRxiv also suggest a relatively low likelihood of infectious virus in tears of COVID-19 patients. In a study by Zhang et al. of 72 confirmed COVID-19 patients at Tongji Medical College, 2 patients had conjunctivitis. One of the 2 with conjunctivitis and none of the other 70 patients had SARS-CoV-2 RNA in their tears. In a paper by Zhou et al. of 63 confirmed COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, only 1 had conjunctivitis; that patient [was negative] for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. One other patient’s conjunctival swab was positive and 2 were “probable."
In a story from CNN, a registered nurse in a nursing home in Washington state with a large COVID-19 outbreak reported that red eye was a common early sign in elderly patients who then became sick with COVID-19."
If you are experiencing red watery eyes with fever and respiratory symptoms (like cough and shortness of breath) its best to assume that you might have COVID-19 and you should be tested immediately or isolate yourself for at least 2 weeks.
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