Coronavirus symptoms update: Have your eyes turned this colour? Warning sign

COVID-19 – the disease that has spawned from SARS-CoV-2, a new strain of coronavirus – has highlighted the world’s complacency about pandemics. SARS coronavirus, its predecessor that broke out in 2003, was largely confined to Southeast Asia, so the threat seemed negligible. COVID-19, however, has proven that coronaviruses do not discriminate by territory or populations.

The global spread of COVID-19 has also produced a slew of surprising symptoms.

The disease has its roots in a respiratory virus but the warning signs extend beyond cold-like symptoms.

As hospitals the world over have faced an influx of patients, unusual warning signs have come to light.

A number of these valuable insights have come out of America – one of the worst hit regions.

A nurse in Kirkland, Washington, for example, who has been caring for coronavirus patients identified an unusual eye-related symptom.

Chelsey Earnest of the Life Care Center told CNN that every patient she’s seen who tested positive for coronavirus had red eyes, also known as conjunctivitis.

The phenomenon, which Earnest refers to as “allergy eyes,” became a reliable way for staff, including doctors, to identify patients who were in dire need of care.

How does COVID-19 affect the eyes?

Specsavers explains: “The conjunctiva is a mucous membrane which covers the surface of the eye.

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“If viral particles, such as the coronavirus, come into contact with it (for example, from a sneeze, cough or touching your eyes with unclean hands), this could result in an individual becoming infected.”

As the eye specialist explains, this is because coronavirus latches onto ACE-2 receptors on the cells of the conjunctiva, similar receptors are found in the respiratory tract and lungs.

“These cell surface receptors act as a gateway into cells themselves, leading to the virus entering the body,” it says.

According to a senior optometrist at Specsavers, conjunctivitis associated with COVID-19 tends to occur in the later stages of the disease, alongside more common symptoms such as a continuous cough and fever.

Other symptoms associated with conjunctivitis

In addition to being red and bloodshot, your eyes may also:

  • Burn or feel gritty
  • Produce pus that sticks to lashes
  • Itch
  • Water

How to treat conjunctivitis

There are things you can do to help ease your symptoms, such as apply a clean cotton wool (one piece for each eye), says the NHS.

The health body says to boil water and then let it cool down before you:

  • Gently rub your eyelashes to clean off crusts
  • Hold a cold flannel on your eyes for a few minutes to cool them down

You should also get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible if you recognise other symptoms of COVID-19.

Other symptoms include a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

In addition to getting a test, you should stay at home and do not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test, says the NHS.

Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also stay at home until you get your result, according to the health body.

A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from one other household.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • You’re worried about your symptoms
  • You’re not sure what to do

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