As the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic spreads around the globe, we should remember that this virus might cause eye involvement in addition to the respiratory system. Actually, the first symptoms may even be related to the eye.
Anadolu Medical Center Ophthalmology Specialist Op. Dr. Burcu Uslu reminds us that the physician who diagnosed the first suspected cases and who later became infected and sadly passed away was an ophthalmologist. “The virus may infect the eyes via droplets and cause conjunctivitis,” Uslu has said.
Anadolu Medical Center Ophthalmology Specialist Op. Dr. Burcu Usta Uslu has also indicated that just like in other viral red eye diseases, the signs of the new coronavirus may include redness in the eye, sticky eyes and watering: “For patients presenting with these complaints, we should bear in mind coronavirus for differential diagnosis. If the patient presenting to the ophthalmologist with conjunctivitis also has fever, respiratory tract involvement and if there’s concomitant coughing and difficulty in breathing, then coronavirus must definitely be looked into.”
Treatment should be multidisciplinary
Ophthalmology Specialist Op. Dr. Burcu Usta Uslu has also stated that COVID-19 must definitely be investigated in patients with travel history to high-risk regions and/or patients coming from these regions as well as those who have a history of suspicious contact in the last 2-3 weeks: “The ophthalmologist should protect themselves by covering their eyes, nose and mouth during contact with these patients. Alcohol based disinfectants that are used in protection against other viral pathogens must be used before and after each patient to cleanse tools and devices by giving them a good wipe. Certain precautions must also be taken in the room. Hand washing before and after every patient is essential.
Op. Dr. Burcu Usta Uslu has also elaborated on the importance systemic monitoring of suspected and probable cases and that they should be followed-up by infectious disease specialists: “The approach should be multi-disciplinary. Those who test positive should be isolated and there should be a minimum of 14 days’ follow up.”