In the past year, healthcare specialists have been battling the Covid-19 pandemic and encouraging the public to fight the spread of the dreaded disease. Since it first jumped onto the healthcare industry’s radar, Covid has rapidly evolved and has impacted various health conditions by weakening the immune system and compounding damage. From the lungs to the heart, such as Covid having a strong link to strokes, bodily organs are threatened by the contraction of Covid and, recently, health specialists have raised concerns over its impact on eye conditions.
While governments and organizations around the world are preparing for mass vaccination programs, one needs to remain safe from the virus until after having received a vaccine. From reducing contact with others to practicing a variety of health protocols, you can avoid the potential risk and impact of Covid on bodily organs, particularly the eyes in this case. Here’s what you need to know about the impact of Covid on eye conditions.
Can Covid-19 Be Transmitted Through Droplets In The Eye?
It is very early for there to be sufficient evidence supporting the notion that Covid may be contracted through droplets in the eyes. That said, there are signs that would indicate the possibility that an individual may contract the virus through the eyes. An individual’s body cavities and organs are lined by mucous membrane, including the respiratory tract which is the primary victim of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other infectious diseases. In the same way, the eyes and inner eyelids contain a layer of mucous membrane, called conjunctiva, that lines their surface. For this reason, there is the possibility that infected droplets may attack the eyes if they come into contact with this mucous membrane.
Respiratory droplets remain the main culprit for the spread of Covid-19, however, it is known that the virus can survive on surfaces such as metal for as long as up to 5 days. Subsequently, it is possible that an individual could contract Covid-19 through touching an infected surface and then touching or rubbing their eyes before thoroughly washing their hands. While there is not enough scientific research to prove this claim, the possibility is there and it supports the health protocols encouraged to fight the spread of the disease.
Can Cleaning Eyes With Water Or Eyedrops Minimize Risk?
There are several healthy suggestions for individuals to introduce into their daily routines if they want to minimize their risk of contracting the virus. You need to consider maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly as a healthy body supports a strong immune system that can fight the impact of the virus. Beyond the body, your mind plays an important role in minimizing risk as a healthy mind is often the most essential kick-starter to healthy physical habits. Whether you are practicing brain training techniques or supplementing your diet with a trusted cognitive booster, supporting your mind and body daily may help you fight Covid-19.
But, what about washing? After all, washing your hands and applying hand sanitizer is said to be the most effective Covid-19 fighting health protocol. This is most certainly true for the spread of the virus through touch, but does washing remain the solution for preventing contraction through the eyes? Unfortunately, no. The eyes have their own protective mechanisms and produce fluids and proteins that support ocular health. Frequent washing of the eyes will flush out these fluids and may even strip the eyes of protective layers. Instead, individuals should use over-the-counter eye drops or artificial tears that have been recommended by a healthcare professional to alleviate any eye conditions that may be linked to Covid-19.
Do Contact Lens Wearers Have A Higher Risk Potential?
Because there is little evidence on the impact of Covid-19 on the eyes to begin with, there is little scientific support suggesting that those who wear contact lenses are more susceptible to contracting the virus. That said, individuals who wear contact lenses touch their eyes more frequently than those without contacts or those who wear glasses. This consistent touching and rubbing may lead to an individual picking up the virus off an infected surface and then transmitting it to the ocular area.
The solution, or option to completely minimize this risk, is opting for glasses over contacts. Wearing glasses reduces the amount of time you spend touching your eyes and also provides a sort of mini shield in a similar way that a face mask does, creating a barrier between infected droplets and the eyes’ mucous membranes. If you prefer to continue wearing contacts, then be sure to wash your hands frequently, especially before touching your eyes.
Is Pink Eye An Early Sign of Covid-19?
Despite such little research currently conducted into the impact of Covid-19 on eye conditions, pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is said to be a precursor or sign of the infection. There is not a clear indication of the amount of Covid patients who have also suffered from ocular conditions, although the link is there and contraction through the eyes should not be taken lightly.
In fact, a recent study found that approximately one-third of patients who were admitted to hospitals also suffered from ocular abnormalities. While conjunctivitis is a common eye condition that affects many people at one point or another, it is peculiar to see such a high level of patients with ocular conditions at the same time as the virus.
The Link Between Covid-19 And Conjunctivitis?
What were the actual links between Covid-19 and conjunctivitis and what ocular abnormalities did patients with the virus experience at the time of studies into this correlation? Well, the reports suggest that upwards of 18% of people were sensitive to light, 16% of people experienced pain in their eyes, and 17% of people suffered from severely itchy eyes.
These results also claim that 81% of people within the survey experienced eye problems within two weeks of the presence of clear Covid-19 symptoms. Whether or not these ocular abnormalities are in fact conjunctivitis is another question, however, we need to consider the impact of Covid on eye conditions and take precautions where we can to prevent its further harm on the body.
Can Covid-19 Cause Temporary Or Permanent Eye Damage?
The importance of practicing proper eye health to combat Covid’s impact on eye conditions should not be taken lightly as there are links between the two. While permanent eye damage as a result of Covid-19 has not yet been reported, the link between conjunctivitis, a temporary eye condition, and Covid indicates the need to practice health protocols that include the protection of one’s eyes. The question of whether or not the lack of oxygen may impact the eyes is also raised as damage to retina tissue from insufficient oxygen could lead to a more serious impact.
While the impact of Covid-19 on eye conditions is still being discussed and studied, early links can be noticed and this raises the concern over eye health while large numbers of people remain unvaccinated. Therefore, it would be wise to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching the eyes as there could be a possibility of contracting Covid-19 through the mucous membranes in the eyes.