What You Need to Know About Pink Eye and the Link to Coronavirus
My eyes are killing me…is it coronavirus? If you’ve found yourself wondering if you’ve picked up COVID-19 through your eyes, you’re not alone. The coronavirus presents with the usual flu symptoms, and pink, irritated eyes with discharge is one of them. Here’s what you need to know about the connection between conjunctivitis and coronavirus.
Pink eye can be environmental, viral or bacterial
If you think you have conjunctivitis, or pink eye, there could be several causes. This time of year, you could be reacting to pollen, mold, chemicals and other allergens in the air1. Sometimes bacteria can cause an eye infection flare-up but, by far, the majority of cases of pink eye are caused by viruses. One of these viruses could be coronavirus. But it just as easily could be another culprit.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmologists, there are cases that show that viruses that cause conjunctivitis were likely transmitted through the air to the eye. It is possible that the coronavirus could be transmitted through a cough or sneeze that causes microscopic particles to travel through the air.
Pink eye accompanied by a cold or flu could be a red flag
If you have eye irritation and also are suffering from congestion, fatigue and coughing, you could be one of over 1,700 cases2 of coronavirus currently diagnosed in the United States. If your pink eye is presenting as the only symptom, you may have contracted it from another source. But it still needs to be treated by an ophthalmologist and you need to take the normal precautions to keep the infection contained.
Ophthalmologists may be the first responder in finding coronavirus cases
Since coronavirus can first present as eye irritation, it is possible that your ophthalmologist is the first person to notice the presence of a virus, such as COVID-193. Patients who have traveled or who have had a family member who has traveled may be evaluated for possible coronavirus.
Symptoms of pink eye:
If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, you may have pink eye, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have coronavirus:
- Red-rimmed eyes, pink in the whites of the eyes, or excessively visible veins in the whites of the eyes
- Discharge from the eye, often yellow pus-like discharge and crustiness
- Watery eyes
- Itchiness and irritation
- Can be in one eye or both eyes
Is it coronavirus?
If your pink eye symptoms are accompanied by a cough, nasal congestion, fever or breathing difficulties, you could be displaying symptoms of coronavirus. Here’s what you should do:
- Begin carefully washing your hands
- Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes
- Reduce your contact with others
- Wear a surgical mask
- Get an appointment with your ophthalmologist to treat your pink eye and let the office know if you have accompanying cold or flu symptoms
- Have the office call in your prescription to a drug store that has a drive-through window so you can stay in the car
- Other than this appointment, stay home and away from others until you are fever-free for at least 24 hours
- Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated while your body fights off the virus
Contact us for quality eye care
If you suspect you have pink eye, call one of our two convenient locations to set up an appointment with one of our board certified ophthalmologists with decades of experience in diagnosing and treating eye concerns. As with any eye condition, conjunctivitis needs the proper diagnosis and treatment. Let us know if you have accompanying flu or cold symptoms or have recently been traveling or exposed to a virus. We’ll be here to offer prompt, quality eye care.