Coronavirus and ophthalmology

Medical content revised by - Last revision 13/02/2020
Coronavirus and ophthalmology

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, anecdotal reports suggest that the new outbreak of coronavirus can cause conjunctivitis, and possibly be transmitted by aerosol contact with the conjunctiva. In this regard, they explain that patients who present to the ophthalmologist for conjunctivitis along with respiratory symptoms and have recently traveled to China or have relatives who have recently returned, could have the disease.

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses that normally affect only animals, although some of them can spread from animals to humans. They can produce anything from a common cold to more serious diseases.

The most recent type of coronavirus, called “2019-nCoV” or simply the “Wuhan coronavirus,” was first detected in December 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has been confirmed to cause severe respiratory infections, including pneumonia. Those affected experience symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or conjunctivitis, which can appear between 2 and 14 days after being exposed to the virus. In addition, according to a paper published in The Lancet, patients can transmit the virus even before experiencing symptoms.

Although it seems that this new coronavirus is not as severe as SARS-CoV (which began in China in November 2002) or as lethal as MERS-CoV (detected in 2012 in Saudi Arabia), it has spread rapidly to other countries and there have already been a significant number of fatalities.

What you need to know

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the virus seems to spread through small respiratory drops, although it could also spread if people touch an object contaminated with the virus and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes. As explained by Dr. Ignasi Jürgens, medical director of ICR, some reports suggest that the virus can cause conjunctivitis and be transmitted by aerosol contact with the conjunctiva. Therefore, patients who go to the ophthalmologist for conjunctivitis and have respiratory symptoms, in addition to having traveled abroad, especially to China, could be suspected of having the virus.

As stated by the Spanish Ministry of Health on its website, there is no specific treatment for the new coronavirus, although there are many treatments to control its symptoms.

Recommendations to ophthalmologists

Although conjunctivitis is not one of the most common symptoms of 2019-nCoV, the American Academy of Ophthalmology has made a series of recommendations to ophthalmologists to act quickly and efficiently in the event that they are the first specialists to evaluate patients possibly infected. Some of these recommendations include:

  • Checking if the patient also has respiratory symptoms.
  • Ask the patient if he/she has travelled to China or if he/she has friends or family members who have recently returned from the country.
  • Specialists must protect their mouth, nose and eyes adequately against the suspicion of a patient presenting this virus.

More information about the coronavirus

Related articles

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that covers the inside part of the eyelids to the anterior part of the eye, up to the cornea. Common symptoms are redness, eye watering and also others, depending on the etiology (morning sticky eyes in infectious cases, enlarged lymph nodes in the viral cases, […]

Infectious conjunctivitis

What is infectious conjunctivitis? Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the mucous membrane that covers the inside of the eyelids. It normally affects both eyes at the same time, although it can sometimes begin in one eye and then transfer to the other after a day or two. The condition in such […]

Do you have any questions?

Contact us or request an appointment with one of our Emergencies specialists.

Visit us at:

ICR Pau Alcover

C. Pau Alcover 67
08017 Barcelona See map

ICR Ganduxer Headquarters

c/Ganduxer,117
08022 Barcelona See map

ICR Terrassa

77, Del Nord St.
08221 Terrassa See map

ICR Service at Clínica Ntra. Sra. del Remei

c/ de l'Escorial,148
08024 Barcelona See map

Clínica Bonanova Surgical Center

Passeig Bonanova, 22
08022 Barcelona See map

Clinica Bonanova Tests and Treatments

c/ Mandri, 63
08022 Barcelona See map

ICR Pau Alcover

Telephone number (+34) 93 378 23 19

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday from 8 am to 8 pm. Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm.

How to get there More information

ICR Ganduxer Headquarters

Telephone number 93 254 79 20
Emergencies phone number: 93 418 72 27

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

How to get there More information

ICR Terrassa

Telephone number +34 93 736 34 40

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

How to get there More information

ICR Service at Clínica Ntra. Sra. del Remei

Telephone number 902 10 10 50

Opening hours:
Every day from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday mornings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

How to get there More information

Clínica Bonanova Surgical Center

Telephone number 934 34 09 25

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

How to get there More information

Clinica Bonanova Tests and Treatments

How to get there More information

This website uses cookies in order to collect statistical information regarding navigation. If you keep on surfing this website, it shall be deemed to have acknowledged its use. More information.