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COVID-19 Is Transmitted Through Tears!

A new study suggests that tears of patients with and without ‘ocular manifestations’ of COVID-19 can be a potential source of infection. Ocular manifestation refers to an eye condition that is directly or indirectly caused by a disease in another body. The study was published in the latest edition of the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology. The primary transmission route of the infection is respiratory droplets. However, the researchers cannot ignore the risk of transmission through other routes such as fecal-oral and conjunctival secretions. Researchers evaluated and compared the presence of Covid-19 in tears of positive patients with and without ‘ocular manifestation.’

The study included 120 Covid-19 infected patients, 60 with ocular manifestations and 60 who had no ocular manifestations. The patients with ocular manifestations include conjunctival hyperemia (41), follicular reaction (38), chemosis in (35), mucoid discharge (20), and itching (11). The samples of tears were taken within 48 hours of admission from both the eyes of enrolled patients for evaluating the presence of SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR. In total, 17.5% of patients 21 of 120 under evaluation for RT-PCR of tears were positive for Covid-19 out of which 11 patients (9.16%) had ocular manifestations, and 10 (8.33%) did not have any visual complaint.

This indicates that coronavirus infected patients can shed the infection in conjunctival secretions even in the absence of ocular involvement. The study concluded that SARS-CoV-2 could be present in tears with or without ocular involvement.

Source: Indian Journal of Ophthalmology



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