Researchers recently found that inpatients and hospital workers could be exposed to COVID-19 through the eyes, even though the incidence of COVID-19 transmission through the ocular surface is extremely low overall. To lower the risk of exposure, the researchers support the push for all health care professionals to wear protective goggles.

This cross-sectional study evaluated 102 patients with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. The 48 males and 54 females were an average of 57.63 years old.

The team discovered that 72 of the total patients identified were confirmed to have COVID-19 by laboratory diagnosis. Of this smaller cohort, they noted that only two patients (2.78%) had conjunctivitis. They added that only one of the two patients had COVID-19 RNA fragments in their ocular discharge.

“The inefficient diagnostic method and the sampling time lag may contribute to the lower positive rate of conjunctival swab samples of COVID-19,” the study authors concluded in their paper.

Zhang X, Chen X, Chen L, et al. The evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection on ocular surface. Ocul Surf. April 11, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].