Covid-19 infection can be transmitted through tears of patients, study finds

A recent study in India has found that Covid-19 infection can be transmitted through tears of patients as SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in conjunctival secretions.

Government Medical College in Amritsar has published a study on the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in tears of positive patients with and without ‘ocular manifestation’, an opthalmological condition that directly or indirectly is caused by a disease in another part of the body and sometimes the first visible symptom, based on a sample size of 120.

However, respiratory droplets remain the primary source of coronavirus infection.

Out of the 120 Covid positive patients, 60 had ocular manifestions and 60 did not. Researchers found conjunctival hyperemia in 41 patients, follicular reaction in 38, chemosis in 35, mucoid discharge in 20 patients, and itching in 11.

About 37% of patients with ocular symptoms had moderate Covid-19 infection, the remaining 63% had a severe infection, the study says.

In the second set, about 52% of the patients had moderate disease and more than 48% had severe disease.

“About 17.5% of patients who under evaluation for RT-PCR of tears were positive for Covid-19 out of which 11 patients (9.16%) had ocular manifestations and 10 (8.33%) did not have any ocular complaint, pointing out that coronavirus infected patients can shed the infection in conjunctival secretions even in the absence of ocular involvement.”

The study called for extra caution and observed that “ophthalmologists need to be more careful” and maintain distance from the patients while examining them.