HealthDay News — About one-third of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have ocular abnormalities, according to a brief report published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Ping Wu, MD, from the Yichang Central People’s Hospital in China, and colleagues examined ocular manifestations and viral prevalence in the conjunctiva in a case series of 38 patients with clinically confirmed COVID-19 treated from Feb. 9 to 15, 2020. The ocular signs and symptoms and results of blood tests and reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from nasopharyngeal and conjunctival swabs for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) were analyzed.

The researchers found that 28 of the patients had positive findings for COVID-19 on RT-PCR from nasopharyngeal swabs, and 2 of these patients had positive findings for SARS-CoV-2 in their conjunctival specimens as well. Ocular manifestations consistent with conjunctivitis, including conjunctival hyperemia, chemosis, epiphora, or increased secretions were seen in 12 patients (31.6%). Compared with those without ocular symptoms, patients with ocular symptoms were more likely to have higher white blood cell count and neutrophil count and higher levels of procalcitonin, C-reactive protein, and lactate dehydrogenase. Eleven of 12 patients with ocular abnormalities had positive results for SARS-CoV-2 on nasopharyngeal RT-PCR; 2 of these had positive results for SARS-CoV-2 on conjunctival and nasopharyngeal swabs.

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“These preliminary results are shared in an effort to inform ophthalmologists and others around the world regarding ocular symptoms with COVID-19,” the authors write.

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