Health experts have been warning people that the novel coronavirus can spread through droplets released by coughing or sneezing. But can people get the virus from other bodily fluids such as tears?
A new study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, suggests that people are unlikely to contract COVID-19 through exposure to tears of an infected person. Researchers looked at how patients could transmit the virus from the time they experience symptoms of the disease.
The findings come after doctors and nurses claimed many patients with coronavirus had conjunctivitis, or pink eye. Health officials also believe that 1 percent to 3 percent of patients appear with redness around their eyes, potentially because of the infection.
Researchers said there is a low incidence of pink eye among people with COVID-19. They also found that the risk of transmitting the virus to other people through tears is low.
To further understand how COVID-19 affects people through other bodily fluids, researchers took tear samples from 17 infected people. The team collected tears from the time patients exhibited symptoms until their recovery.
Results showed that the patients’ tears were clear of the novel coronavirus even in those who had the disease for two weeks. However, their noses and throats appeared with high levels of the virus.
Importance Of Protecting Your Eyes
Despite the COVID-19 patients’ eyes being clear of coronavirus, the researchers warned that it could still be a way for the virus to enter the body of healthy people.
A sick person can release the virus into the air by coughing or talking. The airborne virus particles can then enter through the eyes, mouth or nose.
“People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets,” the World Health Organization said on its website. “This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.”
COVID-19 also spreads when a person touches a surface with the virus on it. Health experts recommend regularly cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched items such as doorknobs, phones and tables.