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Covid and Eye Symptoms — What You Need to Know

Covid and Eye Symptoms — What You Need to Know

We are learning more and more about Covid-19 every day. New information is coming out about eye symptoms and Covid-19, but also about how Covid-19 can affect your eyes. Common symptoms that are associated with Covid-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Dry Cough

However, conjunctivitis is becoming more common with Covid-19 patients. Other aspects of the pandemic are affecting dry eyes as well, such as staying inside with dry air. Read on to find out more about Covid-19, eye symptoms, and other conditions associated with the eyes.

woman wearing mask 

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is also known as pink eye. It is caused by an allergic reaction, viral infection, or bacterial infection. Pink eye is uncomfortable, but it usually does not affect your vision. However, it can be extremely contagious depending on the type of pink eye you have.

Symptoms of pink eye may happen in one or both eyes. They include:

  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Tearing
  • Discharge 
  • Gritty feeling 

If your eye is red, hurts, or feels like something is stuck in it then you should see a doctor. Furthermore, if your eyes are sensitive to light or you have blurred vision, then this is another indication that you should see a doctor. 

If you get conjunctivitis while wearing contacts, switch to glasses. If you are still having symptoms 24 hours later, then call your eye doctor. You want to make sure your eye inflammation is not related to your contacts.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis happens when your body responds to an allergy, such as seasonal allergies. Allergic conjunctivitis happens in both eyes as your body creates immunoglobulin, which is an antibody. The antibody triggers mast cells in the lining of your eyes to release histamines, which is an inflammatory substance.

People with allergic conjunctivitis have symptoms that may include:

  • Tearing 
  • Inflammation
  • Itching
  • Watery discharge
  • Sneezing

Bacterial and Viral Conjunctivitis

Most of the time conjunctivitis is caused by a virus, which includes the Covid-19 virus. However, both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis can happen with colds, sore throats, or respiratory infections. These types of conjunctivitis are extremely contagious and spread through both direct or indirect contact.

Dry Eye

Dry eye is a disease of the tears and surface of the eye. If your body doesn’t produce enough tears, inflammation may build up on the surface of your eyes so it is an uncomfortable, burning, or stinging feeling. 

Treatments for dry eye include eye drops and lifestyle changes. Heated eye masks also help because they have heated oil inside the mask, which helps soothe your eyes and allows them to heal.

Conjunctivitis and Dry Eye

Up to 30 percent of the population is estimated to have dry eyes. The low end is five percent of the population. The variation is because the diagnostic criteria are different between studies. Either way, a lot of the population suffers from dry eye.

There is a relationship between dry eye and conjunctivitis. A recent study of 689 patients showed that 40-60 percent of people in the study had symptoms of both conjunctivitis and dry eyes. The study also showed when pollen increased the tear production increased as did the inflammatory factors. 

The Pandemic and Dry Eye Patients

So how does Covid-19 affect dry eye patients? People who tested positive for the disease had itchy eyes, sore eyes, and were sensitive to light. Most people experienced eye symptoms within two weeks of Covid-19 and the eye symptoms lasted for less than two weeks. 

Benefits of a Dry Eye Mask

One way people are dealing with dry eyes during Covid-19 is with a dry eye mask. A hydrating, warm eye mask will give relief to your dry eyes. The warm mask helps to stabilize the tear film, slow tear evaporation, and improve oil gland function. 

After you use the mask, your eyes will be more lubricated and produce tears easily. Your eyes will feel fresh, rejuvenated, and debris will more easily be removed from your eyes.

Other Options for Dry Eyes

If you don’t have a heated dry eye mask at the moment, but need relief fast, use a warm compress. A warm compress loosens clogged oils in your eyes and relieves irritation. Let warm water run over a washcloth and then wring it out until it is damp. Place the cloth over your eye and leave it there for a few minutes. The moist heat will help with inflammation in your eyes.

washcloth and soap in a bowl

Make sure to wash your eyelids and the surrounding skin every day. Consistently washing your eyes and taking care of your skin may reduce inflammation. If you need extra moisture, put some baby oil on your fingertips and massage it onto your closed eye by the bottom of your eyelashes.

Drink water. Your body needs water to stay healthy, which includes your eyes. Getting more water in your diet is a good way to make sure your eyes stay healthy. Keep water by you so you can easily take sips from it throughout the day. You should be drinking about eight to 10 glasses of water a day. 

Eat tuna, salmon, trout, or mackerel. These types of fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that may help the oil glands in your eyes work better. If you don’t like fish, try walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil. 

Covid, Conjunctivitis, Dry Eye — Oh My

If you suffer from dry eyes, you know how frustrating it is. When you add conjunctivitis or Covid-19, you end up just plain miserable. Watch out for the common symptoms and see a doctor if they do not get better. In the meantime, try a heated dry eye mask to relieve inflammation and reduce irritation.