A new study has reported the discovery of the novel coronavirus in conjunctival swabs and tears of infected patients.
The research has raised concerns that the infection could be transmitted during eye transplantation.
The research analysed the prevalence of the virus in human postmortem ocular tissues. It found that the virus can infiltrate corneal tissue (the outer layer of the eye) that could be used for transplantation.
Covid-19 patients hold much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract. The researchers suggest that there is a strong possibility that the virus could contaminate the outer layers of the eye via respiratory droplets after coughing, sneezing or hand-to-eye contact.
However there is no evidence to suggest Covid-19 can be transmitted from a corneal transplant. But a screening process is necessary to separate infected and non infected donor tissue.
The findings show that before transplantation, it is important to carry out postmortem nasopharyngeal swab testing for detecting Covid-19.
The researchers asked Covid-19 patients to complete a questionnaire about their symptoms, and how those compared to before they tested positive. Sore eyes was found to be significantly more common when the participants had Covid-19.
This study is important as it helps us understand about how Covid-19 can infect the conjunctiva and how this then allows the virus to spread through the body.
The conjunctiva is the mucous membrane of the eye. It lines the inner surfaces of the eyelids or palpebrae. The conjunctiva helps lubricate the eye by producing mucus and tears