Detection of severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus-2 in the tears of patients with Coronavirus disease 2019.Eye (Lond). 2020 Jul; 34(7):1220-1223.E
Since there are few reports on the ocular involvement of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients, this study aimed to assess the presence of severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the tears of patients with COVID-19.
In this prospective case series, nasopharyngeal and tear sampling of 43 patients with severe COVID-19 were performed. The quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was conducted to detect SARS-CoV-2. Ocular and systemic signs and symptoms were recorded from their medical history.
The mean age of patients was 56 ± 13 years. The average disease time from initiation of symptoms was 3.27 days, range: 1-7 days. Forty-one patients (95.3%) had fever at the time of sampling. Only one patient had conjunctivitis. Thirty (69.8%) nasopharyngeal and three (7%) tear samples were positive for SARS-CoV-2. The result of tear sample was positive in the patient with conjunctivitis. All patients with positive tear RT-PCR results had positive nasopharyngeal RT-PCR results.
Ocular manifestation was rare in this series of severe COVID-19 patients, however, 7% of the patients had viral RNA in their conjunctival secretions. Therefore, possibility of ocular transmission should be considered even in the absence of ocular manifestations.