BURSA, Turkey

Some novel coronavirus patients — though very few — exhibit symptoms in their eyes, a Turkish optometrist has said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Dr. Tuncay Sezgin said that such symptoms were reported in at least 1-2% of COVID-19 patients, showing that the eyes are also an important transmission route for the virus.

Noting that red eyes, a condition known as conjunctivitis, had been identified in such patients, Sezgin recommended that people in occupations involving frequent and close contact with others could use protective eyewear, which, though unable to prevent infection, could at least reduce exposure to the virus.

“Protective glasses are preferable to prevent contamination via our eyes,” he added.

Sezgin also said changing contact lenses every day, rather than monthly, was another way to reduce contamination risks through the eyes.

Warning that those suffering from COVID-19 could infect others by talking, sneezing or coughing, Sezgin said the virus could be transmitted if infected droplets reached another person’s conjunctiva — the membrane covering the inside of the eyelids and white part of the eyes.

Despite the uncommonness of the condition’s relation to the coronavirus, he urged people who exhibit sudden redness, watering or stinging in their eyes to see an optometrist.

COVID-19 has claimed more than 1 million lives in 188 countries and regions since it was first detected in Wuhan, China in December.

The US, India and Brazil are currently the worst-hit countries.

More than 34.6 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries surpassing 24 million, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

*Writing by Merve Aydogan in Ankara.

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