Tears of COVID-19 patients can potentially spread the infection, a recent study by the Government Medical College in Amritsar has found.
While respiratory droplets remain the primary source of the coronavirus infection, the risk of transmission through faecal-oral and conjunctival secretions cannot be ignored, according to the study that evaluated and compared the presence of the coronavirus in tears of COVID-19 positive patients with and without ‘ocular manifestation.’
The term ‘ocular manifestation’ refers to an ophthalmological condition that is directly or indirectly caused by a disease in any other part of the body.
According to a report by The Times of India, of the 120 COVID-19 patients who were part of the study, 60 had ocular manifestations and the rest did not.
Researchers noted conjunctival hyperemia in 41 patients, follicular reaction in 38, chemosis in 35, mucoid discharge in 20 patients, and itching in 11. While 37 percent of patients with ocular symptoms had moderate COVID-19 infection, the remaining 63 percent had a severe infection.
The study said 17.5 percent of patients, i.e. 21 of the 120 under evaluation for RT-PCR testing of tears, were positive for COVID-19, out of which 11 patients (9.16 percent) had ocular manifestations and 10 (8.33 percent) did not have any ocular complaint.
It also said COVID-19 positive patients can transfer the infection in conjunctival secretions even in the absence of ocular involvement.
The study, which was published in Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, advised that ophthalmologists need to be careful and exercise extra caution while examining patients.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)