Pence’s Red Eye Raises COVID Concerns

October 8, 2020 – Vice President Mike Pence’s left eye appeared red during Wednesday night’s Vice Presidential Debate, leading internet users to guess that Pence has a pink eye – a known symptom of COVID-19.

During the debate with Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, Pence’s eye definitely appeared red. While the campaign and his office have not commented on his condition, that hasn’t stopped others from suggesting the vice president has pink eye, officially known as conjunctivitis.

With a pesky fly that landed on Pence’s head, it made for a provocative chatter.

“He had a bloody eye and a fly on his head,” Anderson Cooper told CNN.

Pinkeye has long been known to be a possible symptom of the coronavirus. The possibility that Pence has a pink eye is then greater given the coronavirus outbreak now hitting the White House. President Donald Trump and many others have tested positive for the virus, and although Pence says he has so far tested negative, experts said this week the vice president should be in quarantine and not not take part in campaign events or Wednesday’s debate.

Nearly a quarter of pediatric COVID patients had pink eyes from Jan.26 to March 18, according to a study published in Ophthalmology JAMA August 26. A second study published in the same journal the next day detailed two adults with COVID and conjunctivitis. One was a 29-year-old man and the other a 51-year-old woman.

In June, researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada examined the case of a 29-year-old woman with COVID and conjunctivitis. Scientists have found that pinkeye is a secondary symptom of COVID in 10% to 15% of cases.

A study in China, published in late March, found that 12 of 38 patients with COVID-19 also had pink eyes.

The more severe a patient’s COVID-19, the more likely they are to have pink eyes as well, according to the report published online on March 31 in Ophthalmology JAMA.

Alfred Sommer, MD, professor of epidemiology and international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, wrote an editorial that accompanied the study.

“It’s a warning to people that the conjunctiva can be a source of infection that could spread to others,” he said.

HealthDay contributed to this report.

WebMD Health News


Ophthalmology JAMA: “Documenting the evolution of 2 cases of conjunctivitis in mobile hospitals during the 2019 coronavirus pandemic”, “Ocular manifestations and clinical characteristics of children with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in Wuhan, China.”

University of Alberta: “U of A clinician scientists identify pink eye as possible main symptom of COVID-19.”

Twitter: @atrupar, October 7, 2020.

HealthDay: “Pink eye” is often a symptom of COVID-19 and tear infection is possible. “

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