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Are Sore, Itchy Eyes a Sign of COVID-19?

 

If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, the coronavirus, you could be experiencing a range of symptoms, including fever, chills, sore throat, dry cough and muscle aches. Now, studies have found that itchy, irritated eyes can also be a sign of COVID-19 infection. Here’s what you need to know. 

Eye Discomfort and COVID-19

There are many reasons why people experience eye discomfort: Dry winter air, allergies and dry eye syndrome can all cause your eyes to feel itchy, gritty and uncomfortable. Now, a new study suggests that COVID-19 may also cause these symptoms. 

 

A January 2022 retrospective study, published in Medical Principles and Practice, analyzed data from patients who were clinically diagnosed with conjunctivitis – also called “pink eye” – an inflammation of the conjunctiva, and who were later referred for PCR testing for COVID-19.

 

Symptoms that led to the diagnosis of conjunctivitis included eyelid pain or discomfort; a foreign body sensation in the eyes; itchiness; excessive watering; and crusting or flaking at the corners of the eyes.

 

Of the 672 cases sent for PCR testing after diagnosis of conjunctivitis, 121 (about 18%) were found to be positive for COVID-19.  

 

The percentage of patients diagnosed with both conjunctivitis and COVID-19 was statistically significant enough to conclude that conjunctivitis could be a symptom of possible COVID-19 infection. 

 

The researchers concluded that conjunctivitis can actually be the very first noticeable sign of COVID-19, since symptoms of conjunctivitis were often reported by COVID-positive patients several days before they noticed other symptoms more traditionally associated with the virus, such as fatigue, cough, fever and loss of taste or smell.

 

Furthermore, because conjunctivitis and its accompanying ocular itchiness and soreness can encourage a person to touch their eyes more often, it may increase the spread of COVID-19, the researchers said.

What To Do If Your Eyes Itch

If your eyes are itchy or sore, do your best not to touch or scratch them, as this can spread  COVID-19 or another infection to the surfaces you touch. Wash your hands thoroughly and use doctor-prescribed eye drops when possible to alleviate symptoms.

 

Contact us at in if you are experiencing sore, irritated eyes, but follow local medical advice or contact your healthcare professional immediately if you suspect you have COVID-19. Health care professionals recommend taking a COVID test upon the first sign of symptoms to determine if you are COVID-positive and whether your symptoms could be linked to the virus.  

 

If you are COVID-19 negative, your symptoms may be due to an eye infection, dry eye or another cause. Your eye doctor can prescribe eye drops, medications or discuss a range of in-office treatments to relieve your symptoms.  

 

Q & A 

Can COVID-19 cause blurry vision?

COVID-19 does not cause blurry vision on its own. However, people with COVID-19 can experience extreme fatigue, which can affect the way the eyes function and the brain’s ability to process visual information. This level of fatigue has been known to cause blurry vision, headaches or eye strain.

 

A 2020 study published in Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology  suggests that blurry vision can, in very rare cases, result from conjunctivitis linked to COVID-19. 

Can a COVID-19 vaccine cause vision-related side effects?

Of the 3 types of vaccines currently in use throughout the United States (Pfizer/Biontech, Johnson and Johnson and Moderna), none have reported direct side effects that affect a person’s vision.

 

In extremely rare cases, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has been linked to TTS, which is a blood clotting condition that can cause blurry vision, among other symptoms. This occurred in only 1 out of every 3 million patients.

 

Another 8 out of every 1 million patients may experience Guillain-Barre syndrome in connection with the same vaccine. This can cause double vision and difficulty moving the eyes, among other neurological symptoms.

How To Prevent “Mask Fog” on Your Glasses

If you wear glasses and a face mask, you’ve probably struggled with “mask fog.” Your lenses get all misty, requiring you to wipe your eyewear throughout the day. Below are a few strategies to help you prevent your eyeglasses from fogging up when wearing a mask.

But First, Why Do Glasses Fog Up?

Quite simply, condensation forms whenever moist warm air hits a cool surface. Your specs fog up when the mask directs your warm breath upward instead of in front of you — which is great for preventing virus transmission but bad for anyone with less-than-stellar eyesight.

Is Your Mask Well Fitted?

The mask should fit securely over your nose. Ideally, you’ll want to wear a mask with a nose bridge or one that can be shaped or molded to your face. When the mask fits properly, hopefully most of your breath will go through it, not out the top or sides.

Clayton Heights Optometry Eye Clinic and Mask Fog, Optometry, Eye Health in Surrey, BC

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Our Surrey eye doctor has prepared the following answers to your questions about eye disease.

Use Your Glasses To Seal the Top of Your Mask

This method works best with large, thick eyewear frames. By pulling your mask up higher on your nose and placing the lower part of your eyeglasses on the mask, you can get a snug fit that blocks your warm breath from escaping upward toward your eyewear.

Tape Your Mask to Your Face

You can always use tape to secure your mask across the bridge of your nose and the top of your cheeks. Use easy-to-remove tape, including adhesive, medical, or athletic. Just be sure to stay away from duct tape.

Local Mask Fog, Optometry, Eye Health in Surrey, BC

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Soap and Water Help Prevent Fogging

This trick is one that healthcare professionals regularly turn to. All you need for this hack is soapy water (dish soap works best) and a microfiber cloth. Stay away from soaps with lotions in them as they can leave a thick residue, making it even harder to see.

Simply rub both sides of your lenses with a drop of soap, then buff the lenses with a soft microfiber cloth. This effective trick helps prevent your lenses from fogging up as a transparent, thin film of soap acts as a barrier.

Anti-Fog Wipes and Sprays

Another option is to purchase wipes and sprays designed to tackle foggy lenses. Read the fine print, as certain anti-fog solutions may not work as well, or may even damage lenses with coatings that minimize glare and fingerprint smudges, for example.

To learn more about ways to keep your glasses from fogging while wearing a mask, contact Clayton Heights Optometry in Surrey today.

Call Clayton Heights Optometry on 604-372-4030 to schedule an eye exam with our Surrey optometrist.

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