Ocular symptoms in COVID-19 infection: a survey study

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McHarg M., Wang Y., Yakin M., Zeleny A., Caplash S., Sen H. N., ...More

Journal of Ophthalmic Inflammation and Infection, vol.12, no.1, 2022 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s12348-022-00319-w
  • Journal Name: Journal of Ophthalmic Inflammation and Infection
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, EMBASE, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: COVID-19, Infection, Inflammation, Ocular surface, Survey study
  • Lokman Hekim University Affiliated: No


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) systemic symptoms and sequelae have been studied extensively, but less is known about the characterization, duration, and long-term sequelae of ocular symptoms associated with COVID-19 infection. The purpose of this study was to analyze the frequency, spectrum, and duration of ocular symptoms in participants with COVID-19 infection treated in inpatient and outpatient settings. Methods: A retrospective electronic survey was distributed to NIH employees and the public who reported testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. The anonymous survey collected information on demographics, past ocular history, systemic COVID-19 symptoms, and ocular symptoms. Results: A total of 229 (21.9% male and 78.1% female, mean age 42.5 ± 13.9) survey responses were included. Ocular symptoms were reported by 165 participants with a mean of 2.31 ± 2.42 symptoms. The most commonly reported ocular symptoms were light sensitivity (31.0%), itchy eyes (24.9%), tearing (24.9%), eye redness (24.5%), and eye pain (24.5%). Participants with ocular symptoms had a higher number of systemic symptoms compared to participants without ocular symptoms (mean 9.17 ± 4.19 vs 6.22 ± 3.63; OR: 1.21; 95% CI: 1.11 – 1.32; p < 0.001). Ocular symptoms were more common in those who reported a past ocular history compared to those who did not (81.8% vs 67.1%; OR: 2.17; 95% CI: 1.08 – 4.37; p = 0.03). Additionally, the onset of ocular symptoms occurred most frequently at the same time as systemic symptoms (47.5%), and 21.8% reported symptoms lasting ≥ 14 days. Conclusions: Ocular surface-related symptoms are the most frequent ocular manifestations, and systemic disease severity is associated with the presence of ocular symptoms. Additionally, our results show that ocular symptoms can persist post-COVID-19 infection. Further work is needed to better understand ocular symptoms in COVID-19 and long-term sequelae.