Studies published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that many hospitalized children and adults with COVID-19 also developed conjunctivitis. One of the studies conducted in Wuhan, China, found that nearly a quarter of pediatric patients had this condition. Conjunctivitis, or "pink eye," is an infection or inflammation of the membrane lining the eyeball and eyelid, according to a news release from the University of Minnesota.
"Ocular disorders in children with COVID-19 are typically very mild, children recover rather quickly, and these disorders are not associated with any long-term complications," the authors wrote. "Most individuals with ocular symptoms recover spontaneously without any treatment. Therefore, we recommend only close observation for COVID-19–related ocular manifestations in children."
Dr. Daniel Laroche, M.D., president of Advanced Eyecare of New York, tells Newsmax that while cases of conjunctivitis are only about 1% to 3% in the general population of people with COVID-19, that number jumps to 10%-30% in people sick enough to be hospitalized.
“The COVID-19 virus affects the body in many ways, and conjunctivitis is one of them,” he said. Laroche recommends that anyone who is a high-risk patients such as seniors, those who are obese or have health issues such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, should always wear a face mask to prevent contracting the disease which could trigger conjunctivitis.
“Wearing glasses also offers protection to prevent the virus from entering the eyes,” he said. “Glasses can serve as a barrier to air droplets that can transmit the virus from someone coughing or breathing near you. People who wear glasses are also less likely to touch their eyes. Face shields offer even better protection.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, this contagious and unpleasant condition can be treated using artificial tears and compressing the eyelids with a wet cloth several times a day. Contact lens wearers should discontinue their use until the conjunctivitis has gone. Also, throw away any makeup items used before infection. It may take two to three weeks for the virus to run its course, according to the Mayo Clinic.
LaRoche adds that, unfortunately, people are neglecting their overall eye health during the pandemic and urges everyone to get regular eye exams.
“I would like to inform the public that all doctors’ offices have COVID-19 safety protocols with screening, temperate checks, Plexiglass barriers, masking, and deep cleaning so it is very safe to keep your wellness and elective appointments.”
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