More information about COVID-19 and conjunctivitis hit the airwaves overnight.
CNN shared video from an interview with a nurse who worked with patients in the Kirkland, Washington, care facility where 18 patients have died. She described patients’ red eyes as an indicator. In the segment, Chelsey Earnest, RN, says, “It’s something that I witnessed in all of them (the patients). They have, like … allergy eyes. The white part of the eye is not red. It’s more like they have red eye shadow on the outside of their eyes,” Earnest said.
Also, yesterday, the American Academy of Ophthalmolgy updated important eye care-specific information related to the novel coronavirus.
From that page:
- Several reports suggest the virus can cause conjunctivitis and possibly be transmitted by aerosol contact with conjunctiva.
- Patients who present to ophthalmologists for conjunctivitis who also have fever and respiratory symptoms including cough and shortness of breath, and who have recently traveled internationally, particularly to areas with known outbreaks (China, Iran, Italy and South Korea, or to hotspots within the United States), or with family members recently back from one of these areas, could represent cases of COVID-19.
- The Academy and federal officials recommend protection for the mouth, nose and eyes when caring for patients potentially infected with SARS-CoV-2.
- 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. To prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission, the same disinfection practices already used to prevent office-based spread of other viral pathogens are recommended before and after every patient encounter.
As of this morning (3/24/20 @ 9:11 a.m. eastern), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not updated its symptoms of coronavirus to include red eyes.
The American Optometric Association’s coronvirus page is here.
Read more from Women In Optometry related to the impact and your concerns about the coronavirus.