COVID-19 and Ophthalmology
Coronavirus is viral family that may cause human illness. Infection may be similar to common flue or present itself as something more severe, like pneumonia. The new type of virus we nowadays face as part of this pandemic is called SARS-CoV-2, an RNA virus that causes COVID-19 – lung disease manifesting from soft to severe and potentially fatal ways. Exposed people may present symptoms between 2nd and the 14th day after exposition, including fever, coughing and breathlessness.
How does SARS-CoV-2 affect eyes?
First thing to know is that coronavirus may propagate through eyes as well as mouth or nose. An infected person may eventually pulverise particles from mouth or nose to somebody else’s face when coughing, sneezing or speaking – the highest probability is that these droplets will be aspired through mouth or nose of interlocutor but may also enter and infect somebody through eyes. On the other hand, eye’s entry door and consequent infection may happen when touching eyes and then touching contaminated surfaces.
In parallel, eyes may be a COVID-19 target when signals or symptoms emerge in isolated ways or by association with some of ones most population already knows about. Available international research suggests this virus may cause soft follicular conjunctivitis, eventually transmitted by direct contact or aerosol through conjunctiva. For this reason, patients may be infected with SARS-CoV-2 when going to an ophthalmology appointment because of a red eye condition associated to fever, breath symptoms including coughing and breathlessness as well gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea or direct contact with some COVID-19 patient.
By thinking about everybody’s health and security, ophthalmologists and doctors from other specialties have reasonably reduced personal and programed assistance during pandemic period except for emergency services. This is an important measure as limited contact between doctors and patients is essential to help reducing virus propagation. This means your routine visit will be rescheduled. Any eye surgery or non-urgent procedures will also be postponed.
It is however crucial for us to understand that all diseases linked to each medical specialty are still running and have not been suspended! For this reason, as patients, we should be alert to new symptoms and should not stop looking for a doctor just by thinking that pain or discomfort “will fade away”.
In case of…
- Loss of vision or acute visual impairment
- Double vision
- Severe eye illness
- Eye Trauma
… Observation will be needed and so you must get in contact with your ophthalmologist!
Many doubts and less severe diseases may be followed in tele-consultation mode. Thus, and once symptoms are easy to understood according to their severity, there are some communication channels available for population:
Portuguese Society of Ophthalmology (PSO) provides free non presential appointments for ophthalmology patients throguh COESO – Consultórios de Especialidade. To access it you can contact mobile helpline 800 300 350.
In our specific case, Dr. Paulo Freitas da Costa is available to help patients in the obvious limits of non-contact consultation. The goal is to answer questions, give some advises and therapeutic guidelines, as well as to screen urgent cases whose guidance will demand face-to-face consultation. You can contact through the following e-mail address: email@example.com