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Can Pink Eye Be a Symptom of COVID-19? The V.P. Debate Has People Wondering

Can Pink Eye Be a Symptom of COVID-19? The V.P. Debate Has People Wondering

Vice President Mike Pence’s red right eye distracted some viewers during the vice presidential debate on October 8. Now people are wondering if pink eye is a COVID-19 symptom, due to Pence’s proximity to President Trump, who revealed that he tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

We obviously don’t know exactly what Pence’s eye situation is, and both he and his wife, Karen, tested negative for COVID-19 last week. But it is true that pink eye (conjunctivitis) can be a COVID-19 symptom, SELF explained previously. Emerging research suggests that conjunctivitis can show up in children with the coronavirus, and it can even be the only noticeable symptom of COVID-19 in some cases.

In a small study of 38 people with COVID-19 in China published way back in March, about a third of those patients had ocular symptoms, including conjunctivitis. But more recent research suggests that pink eye is actually a pretty rare symptom of COVID-19.

Conjunctivitis occurs in about 1.1% of all COVID-19 cases, according to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Medical Virology in May. In this study, which analyzed data from 1,167 participants in three previous studies, pink eye was more common in severe coronavirus cases than more mild cases. It occurred in 3% of severe cases compared to just 0.7% of mild cases, the authors say.

Eye redness isn’t the only symptom of pink eye, although it may be the most noticeable one to others. Conjunctivitis also causes itchiness, tearing, and a gritty feeling in the eye, the Mayo Clinic says. The condition can also cause eye discharge, which may form a crust overnight that makes it hard for the eyes to open in the morning.

Other causes of eye redness that may be particularly common these days include allergies, issues with contact lenses, overuse of screens, and dry eye, SELF explained previously. So, yes, pink eye can be a COVID-19 symptom in rare cases. But plenty of other conditions can also cause the classic signs of pink eye. Hopefully Pence just needed a few refreshing eye drops to clear things up.

Source: self.com