So far, we just knew that eyes are a possible access door for the virus. A new research, published a few days ago in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine by a team of Spallanzani Institute in Rome, states also another thing, that eyes can be a possible source of infection.
Indeed, the researchers have observed the presence of active virus, namely able to replicate, in tears of a woman infected by COVID-19. In addition to this, while the oropharyngeal tampons of the woman were all negative after the course of illness, the tears had still the virus. Novel coronavirus, therefore, shows to survive longer in eyes, it is present already in the early stages of infection and may be detected until the 27th day from patient’s recovery.
What are the consequences of this?
First of all, that we should be very careful during eye exams and that doctors and ophthalmologists should wear protective visors. Then, that it is very important to adhere to the general rule of not touching with hands the eyes and, in case, to wash the hands with water and soap for a minute and/or use a disinfectant that contains at least alcohol at 60%. This rule is required to avoid other infections in case of a sick person.
The research is debated
The research is contested by scientists of University of Singapore. Indeed, in the research published in the journal Ophthalmology (Seah et al, 2020), the scientists have analyzed the tears of 17 patients affected by COVID-19 and none of them had any trace of the virus in eyes. However, the results of Spallanzani have been observed, for this reason it is to be expected that in some cases the virus is present also in the eyes, or because it is entered though this channel or because we cannot exclude a connection from the nose to the eyes. Other studies will follow and, waiting that scientists are able to shed some light, the advice is that we should be very careful and avoid as much as possible any contact between eyes and hands.