Covid: The ‘most significant’ symptoms in the eyes – how to spot

Omicron sub-variant discussed by infectious disease expert

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When thinking about Covid, your mind probably travels straight to signs like cough or sore throat. However, there are also symptoms that won’t make you want to crawl into bed with a cup of tea. This might make it difficult to pin them down; however, knowing what to look for could help.

From hay fever to spending hours in front of your computer, there are plenty of factors that could leave your eyes irritated and sore.

However, a study, published in the journal BMJ Open Ophthalmology, found that Covid symptoms can also strike down in this area.

Looking at 83 subjects, the researchers used structured questionnaires to obtain self-reported data from Covid-positive patients.

Querying about frequency and duration of the signs, the research team managed to ascertain the most common signs including those occurring in the eyes.

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The most common ocular symptoms experienced by the study subjects were photophobia, sore eyes and itchy eyes.

Photophobia has been seen across most participants. In case you’re not aware, this sign describes a sensitivity to light which is characterised by discomfort.

This eye sign has also been reported by a patient with Omicron BA.5 – the dominant strain in the UK and around the world.

Taking to Twitter, Dr Claire Taylor shared that she and her son experienced a “dislike of bright light” while battling the new variant.

The study reported that there were no differences between males and females when it came to the reported symptoms.

Furthermore, around 81 percent of participants said to have experienced eye symptoms within two weeks of other COVID-19 symptoms, while 80 percent reported they lasted for less than two weeks.

While light sensitivity was the most common sign, the researchers explained that sore eyes were the “most significant” symptom.

Another eye sign identified by a study, published in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology, was conjunctivitis.

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Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin membrane that lines the inside of your eyelids.

This research looked at a 29-year-old woman who turned up at her local hospital back in March 2020.

The woman had minimal respiratory symptoms but suffered from “a severe case of conjunctivitis”.

However, the BMJ study explains that conjunctivitis did not reach such significance as sore eyes.

“The term ‘conjunctivitis’ is too broad and should be used with caution,” the research added.

Apart from your eyes, other parts of your body could also take the hit, triggering various Covid symptoms.

According to the NHS, the full list of signs includes:

  • High temperature or shivering (chills)
  • New, continuous cough
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • Aching body
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling sick or being sick.

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