The new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 may be present in conjunctival secretions of infected patients, according to a report from China.
However, whether the virus can be transmitted through conjunctiva remains to be determined.
37 patients with COVID-19 pneumonia underwent reverse transcriptase PCR to look for evidence of the virus in conjunctival secretion; 12 of
these patients had severe and the others mild COVID-19. Three patients also had conjunctival congestion and other inflammatory ocular findings.
One of the 37 patients had evidence of the virus in conjunctival secretion and this patient had no conjunctivitis. The other 36 patients were negative, reports doctors from Hubei province, the epicentre of the pandemic, in the journal Acta Ophthalmologica.
The viral load of conjunctival sac secretion of COVID-19 patients is relatively low, and the researchers estimated the viral load is directly proportional to the severity of the disease.