COVID-19 patient s may have detectable levels of viral load in the ocular fluid, a study recently published by a group of researchers has revealed.

The study is based on one of the first cases of coronavirus infection confirmed in Italy. A 65-year-old woman, who had come to Italy from Wuhan, China, reported of COVID-19 symptoms 5 days after arrival on Jan. 23, 2020. She suffered from typical symptoms such as sore throat, dry cough, nasal inflammation and pink eye or common conjunctivitis (eye flu).

She was admitted to the hospital the next day. An eye swab was taken on the third day of admission, which confirmed the presence of a viral load. The staff continues to take swabs from the eye for the next three weeks.

Even though conjunctivitis cleared by Day 20 of admission, it was found that the viral load was still present in the ocular fluid on Day 21. The testing of swabs taken from the nose and the eyes continues for another week. Even though there was no viral load in the eye or nose for the next couple of days, the presence of viral RNA or genetic material was confirmed on Day 27. The swab for the nasal mucosa continued to remain infection-free even on Day 27.

This led researchers to conclude that even though the virus is cleared from the nose, it can still be present in the fluid of the eyes, which could potentially lead to further transmission of infection.

"We found that ocular fluids from SARS-CoV-2-infected patients may contain infectious virus, and hence may be a potential source of infection," authors reported. "These findings highlight the importance of control measures, such as avoiding touching the nose, mouth, and eyes and frequent hand washing."

Conjunctivitis has already been linked to COVID-19. Nearly one to three percent of the affected suffer from pink eye.

With the connection between eye and coronavirus, people should be more conscious while toughing their eyes. This is absolutely important for people who wear contact lenses. Areas around the eye must be washed two times a day using warm water and mild dish soap.

Coronavirus Find here when and where the National Association of County and City Health Officials, will discuss how county and city health officials across the country are preparing for the coronavirus at a National Press Club Newsmaker event. Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash