J Korean Med Assoc.  2021 Jan;64(1):41-46. 10.5124/jkma.2021.64.1.41.

Risk and prevention of COVID-19 in ophthalmic practice

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Chungnam National University College of Medicine, Daejeon, Korea

Abstract

The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was first reported in China in December 2019. Recent reports have confirmed that SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted through secretions of the respiratory tract; however, it remains controversial whether or not COVID-19 affects the eye. This study presents a review of current evidence related to ocular transmission of SARS-CoV-2 for gaining a better understanding of the ocular manifestations of patients with COVID-19. The study also summarizes appropriate measures to be taken to protect healthcare providers in the ophthalmology department from being exposed to infected tears or conjunctival secretions. Some studies reported that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted through infected tears and conjunctival secretions of patients with COVID-19. Ocular manifestations such as injection, increased discharge, or epiphora, which are consistent with those of viral conjunctivitis, are more commonly reported. Therefore, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, personnel working in the ophthalmology department should be provided with adequate and appropriate personal protection equipment. The exact mechanism and pathophysiology of ocular transmission of SARS-CoV-2 remain unclear, thus warranting further studies.

Keyword

COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; Eye infection; Conjunctivitis; Tears
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