The London Ophthalmology Centre (LondonOC) reports an increase in numbers of people attending with inflammation and pain in and around the eye following cases of Covid-19.
Mr Vik Sharma (MBBS BSc FRCOphth), Clinical Director, London OC, (and is a Consultant Ophthalmologist, Cataract and Glaucoma Specialist at the Royal Free NHS Hospital, London). He says; “Covid seems to be effecting the eyes in various and mysterious ways. Firstly, I have seen patients myself, and heard many reports from colleagues, about people who report inflammation in the eyes with active COVID-19 infections. Secondly, people with long-covid, or having had a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the past, have complained of blepharitis and eye pain sometime after the Covid-19 infection has passed. We do not yet have sufficient scientific data, however, people should be aware and seek treatment for their eye conditions.”
Scientific reports to date record ‘soreness in the eye’ as being associated with Covid-19. A recent study of 83 people by BMJ Open Ophthalmology* reports the most common Covid-19 eye symptoms were photophobia (18%), sore eyes (16%) and itchy eyes (17%) concluding that the most significant ocular symptom experienced by people suffering from COVID-19 was sore eyes.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology** has also identified cases of a rare but severe eye inflammation called keratitis leading to a severe inflammatory condition, endophthalmitis in three patients with Covid-19.
Mr Sharma advises people to do the following 5 things if are concerned about eye inflammation:
- Seek expert Ophthalmologist advice
An optician may be able to diagnose blepharitis which needs a microscope (slit lamp) to pick up the eyelid signs. Most GP practices will not have access to such equipment. An Ophthalmologist can examine the eyes most thoroughly to exclude any serious causes of eye pain
- Stabilise the tear film
Eye exercises are not proven beneficial for blepharitis or eye pain. Much better to set regular times to become mindful and stop, blink and close the eyes for a few seconds. This can help to stabilise the tear film on the surface of the eye making the eyes more comfortable. This will also help to improve vision
- Omega 3
People can use a simple lubricant (preservative free) drops which can help, and there is evidence that Omega 3 supplements improve blepharitis
- Eye Health Check
If you still have concerns about your eyes then you should have an eye health check which you can do with an Ophthalmologist to ensure there are no underlying or more serious conditions affecting your eye
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