Is Pink Eye a Sign of Coronavirus?

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EyeQue Team

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August 18, 2020

Woman with pink eye

Is Pink Eye a Symptom of COVID-19?

Since the outbreak began in late 2019, over 5 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19, commonly called novel coronavirus. While the main symptoms include fever, a dry cough, and fatigue, the virus is known to cause a multitude of symptoms.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, about 1-3 percent of people infected with COVID-19 reported pink eye symptoms including red, itchy eyes. However, Coronavirus patients do not have pink eye as a standalone symptom.

It is important to note that pink eye is a very rare symptom. For comparison, 83-99 percent of people develop a fever once infected.

What Is Pink Eye?

The term pink eye refers to an inflammation of the conjunctiva (the clear, film-like tissue that covers the white part of the eye.) This inflammation is called conjunctivitis, and there are three main causes: bacteria, viruses, and allergic reactions.

Viral conjunctivitis is easily spread, and the symptoms include watery discharge, a burning sensation, and red, irritated looking eyes. Equally contagious is bacterial conjunctivitis which includes redness and a pus-like discharge. Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious, but the eyes will also be red and watery.

Can You Treat Pink Eye?

Man putting drops in his eyesTreatment for pink eye depends on the cause of the conjunctivitis. Unfortunately, if it is viral, it is generally left up to the body’s immune system. Although things like artificial tears and cool washcloths can relieve some of the symptoms.

An ophthalmologist may prescribe an antibiotic drop for bacterial conjunctivitis, and allergy eye drops may be prescribed for allergic conjunctivitis.

Pink Eye and Coronavirus

If you have other symptoms such as a fever or cough and you think your red, itchy eyes are another coronavirus symptom, it is important to contact your healthcare provider right away. He or she can help you decide if you need to see a physician urgently, but you should be careful to not touch your eyes and wash your hands often regardless.

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