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Pink Eye From Coronavirus And Its Prevention

Conjunctivitis or causally known as ‘The Pink Eye’ is caused from allergens that infect the conjunctiva, which is the protective membrane on eye ball and inner eyelid. Pink eye is often paired with symptoms of viral flu with sneezes, runny nose, and coughs. This flu is seasonal and extremely viral, but not as fatal and unpreventable. Conjunctivitis on other hand, is caused by wiping the eyes with object contaminated with flu since the traces of virus are present around mouth and nose, and can be easily transferred to the eye.
Likewise, medical experts have also linked the Pink Eye to recent viral disease coronavirus which shows almost all symptoms of other viral respiratory viruses, including SARS. These findings were recorded and highlighted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). Coronavirus causes respiratory disease Covid-19 that spreads through eye, nose and mouth and damages the respiratory organs. Though it is preventable and curable but can prove to be fatal for some people with weaker immunity, such as seniors and persons with previous medical history. The coronavirus was officially considered a global pandemic by world health organization in 2020.
The virus surfaced in Wuhan, China in December, 2019, where it transmitted from animals to human and continued to spread in multiples. The virus has a history of residing within animals’ DNA adapting them to infection, the same way human DNA has adapted to seasonal flu. The virus also has the trait to be initially invisible as people continue to contaminate further before realising.

How does coronavirus cause Pink Eye?

The coronavirus can cause conjunctivitis in following ways:

Coughs and Sneezes

Coronavirus is a contagion and can spread from one person to multiple within no time. It is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes at a small distance where your eyes are exposed to the droplets carrying virus bodies.

Touching eyes

The virus has the ability to transfer from surfaces to human body as well. If you touch a contaminated surface and your eye with the same object or hand, you are directly exposing your eyes to virus.
However, with recent studies, so far only 1 – 3% of subjects have shown pink eye as symptom of coronavirus. But it is nevertheless important to be cautious and follow strict prevention guidelines from medical experts, for our own safety and of those around us.

What kind of virus causes Pink eye?

Adenovirus is a group of viruses that are the cause for common cold and other upper respiratory syndromes. Diseases caused by adenovirus have the symptoms like that of a flu, fever, cough, diarrhea and nausea from weakness. It is also capable of inflammation in the respiratory track and lungs and eventually causes symptoms of pneumonia and pink eye. Likewise, symptoms of conjunctivitis include red swollen eye, watery discharge, and sandy or gritty feeling on the inner eyelid.
Adenovirus can cause mild conjunctivitis with no other symptoms but pink eye, or it is either responsible for the serious eye condition such as epidemic Kerato-Conjunctivitis – EKC, which is highly contagious and uncomfortable to the eyes. Adenoviruses have the ability to survive a long time on any surface, such that if contaminated a door knob, they can stay there for up to 30 days or unless sterilized.
Regular flu may also cause conjunctivitis but it is as not highly capable of the infected eye condition as any adenovirus.

How to prevent conjunctivitis?

Now that we know the conjunctivitis is incurable but preventable, we can prevent it from happening by following a small ritual of acts that can help us a long way in keeping our eyes safe, those of which are:

Wash hands thoroughly:

It is important to wash hands thoroughly with soap in days of viral infections, because it helps to wash off virus that has latched onto our hands from any surface. It is recommended to scrub hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, followed by drying with a clean towel or air dying.

Avoid Touching eyes:

When you know that a viral infection is around, resist your urge to touch your eyes. It may sound hard to do, but is necessary if you intend to keep your eyes free from contamination. In case of an itch or inflammation, wash hands and then wash eye with clean water as a precautionary measure.

Do not share personal care items:

Most people may share personal care items that come in direct contact with eyes or face, such as a makeup brush, pillow, eye glasses, or even eye drops.

Use glasses instead of eye lenses:

A very important thing to consider for those who frequently use contact lenses, is to replace lenses with eye glasses so as to prevent the direct contact of hands with eyes. This is effective in case you have virus on hands that can be transferred from hands to lenses and from there to your eyes.

How to treat Conjunctivitis?

There is not complete treatment for conjunctivitis. The pink eye symptoms stay for one to two weeks and the medications can only help soothe the condition but not eliminate it entirely or prevent from happening again. Neither does it come in effect with any vaccine, hence the only remedies are:

  • Over the counter medicines
  • Warm compressing eyes with clean cloth
  • Lubricating eyes with drops

As per general misperception, antibiotics do not help ease the pink eye and hence it is necessary to be careful to visit a specialist for infection and not a general physician.
In case of fever, or runny nose, or anything that hints you of the flu or pink eye, it is important to skip self-diagnoses and visit a physician or a specialist. Every time your eye is pink does not necessarily indicate conjunctivitis but could be the result of any other eye condition too. However, such as in case of the coronavirus you may want to avoid a pink eye at all costs and hence it is also safe to cancel any appointments where medical equipment may directly come in contact with eyes. Coronavirus and conjunctivitis do not have medications for cure and hence it is upon the patients to ease the spread of infections and upon other people to keep themselves and their loved ones safe at such times with necessary precautions.