COVID-19: When eye glasses become important

SCIENTISTS are still deep in the research process of uncovering all the ways in which COVID-19 can be transmitted. Now, in a new study, researchers at the University of Hong Kong have found eyes are ‘important route’ for coronavirus.

The findings are challenging the widely held assumption in the earliest stages of the health crisis that medical staff would be adequately protected with N95 masks and protective clothing, without the need for specialist glasses.

The study, which reinforces the piece of advice to the public not to touch their eyes and to wash hands regularly to avoid infection, said COVID-19 may be transmitted through the eye.

Researchers analysed data from 38 patients with COVID-19 from Hubei Province, China, and found 12 individuals had eye manifestations, including epiphora (excessive tear production), pink eye or chemosis (an eye irritation).

A new report published by JAMA Ophthalmology found preliminary data may suggest severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), might be transmitted through the eye.

These symptoms commonly occur in patients with severe systemic manifestations of COVID-19 and are consistent with conjunctivitis, or pink eye. None of the 12 patients experienced blurred vision.

The study also found COVID-19 was present on conjunctiva swabs from 2 of 11 (18 per cent) patients tested for SARS-CoV-2 via nasal swabs.

Dr Yinka Ologunsua, a consultant ophthalmologist at LAUTECH Teaching Hospital Osogbo, Osun State, stated that it is possible for the eye to be infected with coronavirus through the conjunctiva, the mucus membrane in the eyes.

According to him, coronavirus has been documented to be present in many body fluids such as the blood, semen, saliva or tears.

Although the nose is the most common route coronavirus enters into the human body, he declared that the eye can also be infected if touched by a hand contaminated with the germ.

Nonetheless, Dr Ologunsua said the possibility of the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19 entering the eye is why the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), also has some part of it covering the eyes and the face.

Dr Ologunsua said eye protection is only important in health workers such as ophthalmologists, Ear, Nose and Throat surgeons and dentists who in the course of assessment and treatment get close to their patients.

“For those who are involved with ordinary day to day things, it is not compulsory that they wear eye protectors like goggles. As long as you are not touching their eyes and maintain social distance, the risk is very low,” he added.

Dr Opeyemi Komolafe, a consultant ophthalmologist at the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, stated that COVID-19 is a novel disease and a lot of things are still not clear about it for now.

According to him, even if the tear fluid contains the virus, because the tear fluid stays in the eye and does not splash, the likelihood of getting it from the eye is still low, except by touching the eye.

He declared, “Red eye, for now, is not a major presenting symptom in coronavirus infection, but some people have actually said that it can happen. Some have also reported that the virus even lives longer in the conjunctival even longer than it lives in the nose.”

According to Dr Komolafe, the possibility that the germ hanging in the air can get deposited in the eye is very remote.

“That is why the issue of maintaining adequate distance, for now, becomes very important and at every point, you wash your hands.”

Dr Gboyega Ajayi, the Chief Executive Officer of Eleta Eye Institute, Ibadan, said that Dr Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist, in Wuhan China was the first to alert the world about COVID-19.

He stated that in the course of treating the infected patients, a good number of patients were found to have red eyes called conjunctivitis.

Dr Ajayi added, “In actual fact, some COVID -19 patients with conjunctivitis were also found to have the virus in their conjunctival secretions in addition to the virus in their throats and nostrils.

“This does not come as a surprise because of the continuity between the conjunctival linings of the eye through the nose to the throat, airways and lungs.

“The conjunctiva is also exposed to the atmosphere and is an easy target of the droplets or aerosols from an infected person while talking, sneezing or coughing.

“The popular adage of the Yoruba, that whatever affects the eye will affect the nose is true. And we know that once in the nose it will get to the throat.

“It is therefore not unusual that a patient with cold, catarrh or flu has watery eyes, runny nose to develop a cough followed by breathing difficulties and death from lack of air getting into his lungs. So conjunctivitis (red eyes) could as well be a warning sign of the presence of COVID-19 infection.”

“Simply put, discharge from the eyes could be another source of transmission of the disease. And that is one of the reasons that we have been asked to wash and sanitise our hands before we touch our face.

“When you wear a mask and keep touching and pulling it up with your fingers or removing and putting it back, you are actually increasing your chances of getting infected! So your mask becomes a danger rather than a preventive barrier for Covid-19 infection.”

Dr Ajayi added that the watery discharge from the conjunctiva can be deposited on any surface touched by the infected patient and aid the spread of the infection.  As such measures need to be taken at eye clinics to sanitise all instruments that in the course of treatment touch the eye.

“Both the patient and the caregiver must ensure compliance with safety measures because one is at the risk of infecting not just the other person but all other people who come in contact with them.”

Previously, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) observed that some reports suggest “the virus can cause conjunctivitis and possibly be transmitted by aerosol contact with the conjunctiva.” The AAO also reported that there is a low risk of spreading COVID-19 through tears.

The team led by Dr Michael Chan Chi-wai, which published its findings in the latest issue of The Lancet Respiratory Medicine also provided evidence that coronavirus can infect humans through the eye and airways.

They found that SARS-Cov-2, the strain of coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 disease, is much more efficient in infecting the human conjunctiva and the upper respiratory airways than SARS, with virus level some 80 to 100 times higher.

The findings from Dr Chan’s team and others challenge the widely held assumption in the earliest stages of the health crisis that medical staff would be adequately protected with N95 masks and protective clothing, without the need for specialist glasses.

Nevertheless, this wasn’t the first study to document eye-related symptoms for those with COVID-19. A study published late February in the New England Journal of Medicine reviewed data on 1,099 patients who had laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 from 552 hospitals in China.

These are not big numbers of people with possible COVID-19 conjunctivitis, implying that the rate of eye symptoms for COVID-19 is probably low. Regardless, these studies do suggest that infection of the eyes is possible.

 

 

 

YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

Buy and read digital replicas of your TRIBUNE titles by subscribing through E-VENDING

P&ID: US Judge Grants Nigeria’s Request To Access Ex-President Jonathan, Diezani’s Bank Records
A New York Federal Judge, lorna Schofield has granted Nigeria’s request for a subpoena on 10 United States banks for information to prosecute government officials allegedly connected to the Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) alleged bribery scheme and subsequent $9.6 billion claims… Read full story

COVID-19: Nigerians Recycling Face Masks From Dumpsites ― PTF
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 pandemic has raised an alarm over the practice of some Nigerians picking face masks from dumpsites to recycle and sell. The chairman of the task force and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who warned on this during the task force… Read full story

[PROFILE]: Who Is Professor Ibrahim Gambari, President Buhari’s New Chief Of Staff?
On Tuesday, May 12, there was an official statement that Professor Ibrahim Gambari would succeed the late Abba Kyari as Chief of Staff (CoS) to President Muhammadu Buhari. The official announcement according to the Presidency will be made on Wednesday during the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting… Read full story

Reps Tackle FG For Using Foreign Airline To Evacuate Nigerians Abroad
The House of Representatives on Tuesday kicked against the Federal Government’s decision to engage foreign airlines in evacuating Nigerians stranded in abroad. The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Mohammed Shamsudeen Bello and eight others… Read full story

Reps Unhappy Over Mysterious Deaths In Jigawa •Ask FG to halt evacuation of COVID-19 patients to states of origin
The House of Representatives on Tuesday solicited for Federal Government’s intervention to urgently establish at least five testing centres in Jigawa State as part of efforts geared toward ending the mysterious deaths in the state. The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by… Read full story

We Tested 111 For Coronavirus In Kogi, They All Returned Negative, Says Govt
Kogi State government said on Tuesday said that 111 persons it tested for coronavirus returned negative. The state Commissioner for Information and Communication Strategy, Mr Kingsley Fanwo, made the disclosure in a statement in Lokoja, the state capital… Read full story

Bandits Killed 15, Injured Five During Kaduna Attack ― Police
At least, 15 people have been killed by bandits in the recent attack on Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State police command. The incident was said to have occurred in the early hours of Tuesday when gunmen invaded the community… Read full story

Another COVID-19 Patient Delivered Of Baby Boy At LUTH
A team of doctors, anaesthetists and nurses at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, delivered another woman, 37, with coronavirus of a baby boy weighing. Professor Wasiu Adeyemo, Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC) of LUTH, disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria… Read full story

32-Year-Old Man Who ‘Recently Returned From Dubai’ Dies Of Coronavirus In Lagos
The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, says a 32-year-old man who recently returned from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with severe underlying health conditions, died of coronavirus on Tuesday. Abayomi confirmed the death of the man, whose identity was not revealed… Read full story

COVID-19: Lagos State Releases Additional Guidelines For Reopened Commercial, Industrial, Institutional And Recreational Facilities
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Lagos State Government on Tuesday issued additional guidelines for the operations of all the commercial, industrial, institutional and recreational facilities that have just been recently unlocked in the state. According to a statement by the state Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources… Read full story

Senate Demands Prompt Action From Security Agencies Over Banditry In North
The Senate on Tuesday asked the relevant security agencies to take firm and prompt actions against the resurgence of banditry in the country. The lawmakers also demanded full implementation of the recommendations of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Nigeria Security Challenges… Read full story

EDITORIAL: Justice For The Port Harcourt Three
DURING these perilous times when Nigerians are daily confronted with hunger and pain, with waves of joblessness and privations surging since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, some felons are still at their beastly best, perpetrating horrendous and blood-curdling crimes… Read full story

You might also like
Comments

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. AcceptRead More