AIIMS study: Covid virus detected in patients' tears despite having no eye disease
AIIMS study: Covid virus detected in patients' tears despite having no eye disease

According to a recent study by doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which caused the fatal Covid-19 epidemic, was discovered in the tears of individuals with no eye conditions in another unusual occurrence.

The researchers recruited 40 patients in the study, which was published in the journal Cureus. Of them, 26 (65%) were diagnosed with moderate Covid, six (15%) with severe Covid, and the remaining 20 with light Covid.


Using RT-PCR, five (12%) of the 40 patients tested positively for SARS-CoV-2 in the tear sample.

Only 20% of these five positive individuals had visual indications, while the other 80% showed no evidence of ocular symptoms.

In addition, seven patients (17%) had ocular symptoms as conjunctival hyperemia, epiphora, wetness, and itching; however, only 14% of these patients had tear samples that were positive for SARS-CoV-2.

In samples of tears from the six patients who were still alive, SARS-CoV-2 was not detected.

Notably, Kanishk Singh and colleagues from the department of ophthalmology at AIIMS Nagpur found a positive Covid-19 tear sample in patients with and without ocular symptoms, they said in the report.

According to the researchers, there have only been a few papers that specifically address ocular problems in Covid-19 patients. The research does, however, show that SARS-CoV-2 may be found, although with a reduced positive rate, in conjunctival swabs from confirmed Covid patients.

“Despite the virus’s low frequency in tears, there is a chance that it may spread through ocular channels. Therefore, even in the absence of visual signs, it is crucial to take into account the likelihood of ocular transmission. To reduce the possibility of transmission, medical professionals should exercise extreme caution while doing eye exams on individuals who have been diagnosed with Covid, the researchers said.

Notably, compared to nasopharyngeal secretions, the viral load in conjunctival samples is often lower.

“Despite this discrepancy, worries about the disease’s potential transmission via tear samples continue, even in the absence of overt ocular symptoms. The researchers stressed that using just tear samples to diagnose Covid-19 should be avoided and that they cannot be used as a replacement for other accepted diagnostic techniques.



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