Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your Eyes
March 6, 2020
Cataract and Cataract Surgery, Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Cornea
I have a pink eye, could this be Coronavirus?
It is unlikely. A pink eye in adults is usually caused by a virus that is similar to a virus that causes the common cold. The key to raising your suspicion, and ours, about your pink eye being atypical is if you also have significant respiratory issues (cough, shortness of breath) and fever along with your pink eye (conjunctivitis). Have you been around someone who recently traveled to China? Or any of the other places recently showing Coronavirus outbreaks? If so then please let your healthcare provider know prior to entering a medical facility so that proper precautions can be taken.
What should I do to avoid Coronavirus in my eyes?
Your mouth, nose, and eyes are covered by a thin layer of cells called a mucous membrane. The function of these cells is to protect the body from invasion of pathogens (viruses, bacteria etc). The reason why the CDC (center for disease control) wants you to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth is because these mucous membranes are the site of entry of viral particles, or the pathogen that is Coronavirus. We recommend avoiding eye touching and frequent thorough hand washing. Hand washing is especially important after being in a public place.
What are we doing as a practice?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is very likely susceptible to the same alcohol- and bleach-based disinfectants that ophthalmologists commonly use to disinfect ophthalmic instruments and office furniture. We will continue to be vigilant in maintaining a clean environment for our patients as well as screen any potential patients with pink eye as to their risk of being exposed to COVID-19.
Blog post by Dr. Alexander Voldman D.O., a Board Certified comprehensive ophthalmologist with fellowship training in advanced cataract and corneal surgery.