Target Health Blog

COVID19 Impacts Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

April 6, 2020


An eye infected with viral conjunctivitis
Photo credit: by Joyhill09 - I took this photo with a Nikon D40 of my eye infected with conjunctivitis, CC BY-SA 3.0,

1) _____, also known as pink eye, is inflammation of the outermost layer of the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid. It makes the eye appear pink or reddish. Pain, burning, scratchiness, or itchiness may also occur. The affected eye may have increased tears or be “stuck shut“ in the morning. Swelling of the white part of the eye may also occur. Conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes.

The most common infectious causes are 2) _____ followed by bacterial. The viral infection may occur along with other symptoms of a common cold. Both viral and bacterial cases are easily spread between people. Allergies to pollen or animal hair are also a common cause. Diagnosis is often based on signs and symptoms. Occasionally, a sample of the discharge is sent for culture.

Prevention is partly by handwashing. Treatment depends on the underlying cause. In the majority of viral cases, there is no specific treatment. Most cases due to a bacterial infection also resolve without treatment; however, antibiotics can shorten the illness. People who wear contact lenses and those whose infection is caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia should be treated. Allergic cases can be treated with antihistamines or mast cell inhibitor drops.

Pink Eye, or conjunctivitis, is often a symptom of COVID-19.  Besides causing COVID-19, the new coronavirus can also lead to 3) ___  ___, and Chinese researchers say the virus may be spread by tears. In a study of 38 patients with COVID-19, twelve (12) also had pink eye. In two patients, the coronavirus was present in both nasal and eye fluids. According to the authors, some COVID-19 patients have ocular symptoms, and maybe novel coronaviruses are present in the conjunctival secretions of patients with COVID-19. Since the 4) _____ is a thin, transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner eyelid and covers part of the white of the eye, the coronavirus may invade it in patients with severe 5) _____ pneumonia. That means the virus can be spread if someone rubs an infected eye and then touches someone else - or even during an eye examination.  According to an article published in JAMA Ophthalmology (31 March 2020), the more severe a patient's COVID-19 is, the more likely it is that he or she will also have pink eye. Given these findings, the authors recommend that doctors and nurses treating patients with COVID-19 should wear protective glasses as well as other protective clothing, caps and gloves. Thus, people should take steps to prevent pink eye, including avoiding touching their eyes and face, and using 6) _____ instead of 7) _____ lenses during the coronavirus outbreak. Clearly, this is a warning to people that the conjunctiva can be a source of spreading 8) _____.

Currently, the guidelines from the American Academy of 9) _____ recommend regular eye exams not be performed during the pandemic. Of course, any 10) _____ that can affect vision still need to be treated immediately.

Sources: Wikipedia;

ANSWERS: 1) Conjunctivitis; 2) viral; 3) pink eye; 4) conjuctiva; 5) COVID-19; 6) glasses; 7) contact; 8) infection; 9) Ophthalmology; 10) emergencies

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