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Study examines presence of SARS-CoV-2 in tears

Scientists determined that that the virus can be detected on the conjunctiva and tears of patient with COVID-19

woman wearing face mask holding a child
Pixabay/marcinjozwiak

Researchers have analysed the tears and ocular symptoms of patients with COVID-19.

The research, which was published in Vision, tested for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in tears and conjunctival secretions of 56 patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19.

Patients had been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms for seven days on average before ocular testing.

Four of the 56 conjunctival swabs were positive for SARS-CoV-2, while four of the strips used to test tears were also positive for the virus.

Within the group of patients, 30% reported ocular symptoms.

No association was found between positive ocular samples and reporting ocular symptoms.

“This study shows that SARS-CoV-2 can be detected on the conjunctiva and tears of patients with COVID-19. Contact with the ocular surface may transmit the virus and preventive measures should be taken in this direction,” the study authors highlighted.

In a different study, researchers found that performing non-contact tonometry can result in the formation of droplets capable of transmitting viruses.

Study author, Saptarshi Basu, said: “What you think is a very safe, non-contact procedure, even then, one needs to be a little careful.”