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COVID-19: ocular symptoms studied in symptomatic patients


Researchers in Poland investigated the presence and duration of ocular symptoms of patients with symptomatic COVID-19 infections.

Anna Niedźwiedź, PhD, and colleagues from Pomeranian Medical University, Szczecin, Poland, investigated the presence and duration of the ocular symptoms of patients with symptomatic COVID-19 infections.

COVID-19: ocular symptoms analyzed in symptomatic patients

In their study, the investigators sought to estimate the presence of ocular symptoms, i.e., higher prevalence of eye itching, burning, tearing, redness, and ocular pain, in 180 patients who were positive for SARS-CoV-2 and showing classical COVID-19 symptoms compared to those in 160 age-matched controls who were negative for SARS-CoV-2.

The investigators also looked at the levels of certain proinflammatory cytokines and growth factors in the tears in both groups.

The primary outcome was the occurrence of ophthalmologic manifestations at hospital admission and during the preceding 7 days.

The tear film concentrations of tumor necrosis factor-α, and interleukin (IL)-1b, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12 p70, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and interferon gamma (IFN-γ) were measured.

Niedźwiedź reported that 12.64% of the patients with COVID-19 had at least one ocular symptom at hospital admission, and 24.14% had had symptoms within the preceding 7 days (p < 0.001 vs. controls).

“We found that the COVID-19 patients complained more frequently about eye tearing (p = 0.04) and eye pain (p = 0.01) than the controls,” she said.

Analysis of the patients and controls showed that COVID-19 was an independent factor associated with higher vascular endothelial growth factor and IL-10 tear film concentrations (β = +0.13, p = 0.047 and β = +0.34, p < 0.001, respectively) and lower IL-1β, IL-8, and GM-CSF levels (β = −0.25, p < 0.001; β = −0.18, p = 0.004; and β = −0.82, p = 0.0 respectively).

Based on those results, the researchers concluded that ophthalmic symptoms may not constitute a substantial element in the clinical picture of novel COVID-19 infection.


1. Niedźwiedź A, Kawa M, Pius-Sadowska E, et al. Evaluating ocular symptoms and tear film cytokine profiles in symptomatic COVID-19 patients. J Clin Med. 2022;11: 2647; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm11092647
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