Your Corneas May Be Safe From COVID: Study

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay reporter

FRIDAY, November 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) – A new study suggests COVID-19 does not infect the cornea of ​​the eye.

Although viruses such as herpes simplex can infect the cornea and Zika has been found in corneal tissue and tears, this does not appear to be the case with COVID-19, according to researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine. in Saint-Louis.

They said the cornea appears to resist infection with the novel coronavirus.

However, it is not clear whether other tissues in and around the cornea, such as the tear ducts and conjunctiva (loose connective tissue that covers the eyeball), can become infected.

“Our results do not prove that all corneas are resistant,” said the first author, Dr. Jonathan Miner, assistant professor of medicine.

“But every donor cornea we tested was resistant to the novel coronavirus. It’s still possible that a subset of people have corneas that support the growth of the virus, but none of the corneas we studied supported the growth of SARS-CoV-2, “he said. in a college press release.

Co-author Dr Rajendra Apte said some patients with COVID-19 had eye symptoms such as pink eye (conjunctivitis), but this could be related to secondary inflammation and not viral infection. herself.

“The cornea and conjunctiva are known to have receptors for the new coronavirus, but in our studies, we found that the virus did not replicate in the cornea,” said Apte, professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences. “Our data suggests that the new coronavirus does not appear to be able to penetrate the cornea.”

But due to unknowns involving the tear ducts and conjunctiva, it’s too early to ignore the importance of eye protection, the researchers said.

“It is important to respect what this virus is capable of and to take the proper precautions,” Miner said. “We can learn that eye protection is not necessary to protect against infections in the general community, but our studies are really just the beginning.”

The results were published online Nov. 3 in the journal Cell reports.

More information

For advice on protecting against the coronavirus, visit the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: Washington University School of Medicine at St. Louis, press release, November 3, 2020

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