Updated on  February 3, 2023
4 min read

Can You Catch Coronavirus Through Your Eyes?

7 sources cited
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Can You Catch Coronavirus Through Your Eyes?

Coronavirus can spread through the eyes, just as it does through your nose and mouth. However, researchers are still studying the rate at which COVID-19 can spread through the eyes.

When an infected person with COVID-19 talks or coughs, the virus particles can spray from their nose or mouth and into your face. Depending on their proximity, you can breathe in the small droplets, or they can enter your body through your eyes. 

You can also contract the virus by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your nose, mouth, or eyes. This transmission route only accounts for a small number of cases and can be prevented through regular handwashing.

COVID-19 Symptoms & Transmission

There are \different types of coronaviruses. Some produce minor cold symptoms, while others can cause severe respiratory illness.

COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is the novel coronavirus that began spreading worldwide in late 2019. The virus can produce mild to severe respiratory symptoms.

COVID-19 symptoms typically show up anywhere between 2 to 14 days after exposure. Some people are asymptomatic. The most common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pneumonia and/or breathing difficulties (severe cases), which can result in serious illness or death

COVID-19 is known to spread by person-to-person contact through infected respiratory droplets from sneezing or coughing. IIt can also spread through nose mucus and saliva. 

Coronavirus Transmission Through Tears

Virologists are certain that COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets and mucus in coughs and sneezes. They are uncertain if the virus spreads through other bodily fluids, such as tears. 

It is believed that infected respiratory droplets and mucus have a much higher risk of transmission. In a study from May 2020, only a small percentage of patients (0 to 7.14 percent) had COVID-19 isolated in their tear films.  

In another study, a doctor discovered that samples taken from the back of the throat and nose of COVID-19 patients were full of the virus. Tear samples taken from their eyes during the same period, however, were clear of the virus. 

Although there is a low risk of coronavirus spreading through tears, it is still crucial to guard your eyes and frequently wash your hands. Also, refrain from touching your nose, mouth, eyes, and face with unwashed hands to slow the spread.  

Coronavirus and Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Conjunctivitis is the medical term for pink eye. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva is the thin layer of tissue covering the whites of your eye and lining your eyelids' inner portion.

viral conjunctivitis

COVID-19 can cause pink eye, but this is rare. If you have pink eye without any other COVID-19 symptoms, do not panic. It is likely related to a different viral or bacterial infection.  

Eye conditions, such as eye redness, foreign body sensation, and tearing, are uncommon in people with COVID-19. According to one study, less than 5 percent of people with COVID-19 from six different studies showed eye symptoms. Two reports showed no eye symptoms.

Conjunctival symptoms more commonly affect severely ill patients. COVID-19 can worsen pre-existing eye diseases.

Keep in mind, though, that pink eye is very contagious. It can spread through the sticky or runny discharge from your eyes. Stay home from work or school for a few days if you ahve conjunctivitis. 

COVID-19 Pandemic: Safety Tips & Eye Protection 

To help slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce your risk of infection, practice the following:

Do not rub your eyes. Refrain from rubbing your eyes with unwashed hands whenever possible. Also, do not touch your face, nose, or mouth. 

Wear eyeglasses. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends temporarily switching from contacts to glasses. Contact lens wearers touch their eyes more than the average person. Glasses may protect them from respiratory droplets.

Follow good contact lens hygiene. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before putting in or taking out your contact lenses. 

Stock up on eye medications. If you want to stay at home as much as possible, your ophthalmologist will allow you to stock up on prescription eye medications for up to 3 months. 

Wash your hands often. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water throughout the day and whenever you return home. 

Wear face masks in public places. Some states still require people to wear face masks in all indoor public areas, including the grocery store. Failure to follow this rule can result in a fine. Safety goggles and face shields are only required for healthcare workers. 

Practice social distancing. Stand at least 6 feet away from people in public places and avoid close contact to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Read More: How to Improve Your Eyesight


COVID-19 is believed to spread through respiratory droplets and mucus in coughs and sneezes. There is a low risk of the virus spreading through your eyes and tears, but it's still important to be cautious. Practice good hygiene and wear eyeglasses to protect your eyes from respiratory droplets.

Updated on  February 3, 2023
7 sources cited
Updated on  February 3, 2023
  1. "Coronavirus and Your Eyes." American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), 2020.

  2. "COVID-19: Low Risk of Coronavirus Spreading through Tears." Sciencedaily.com, 2020.

  3. Dockery, et al. “The Ocular Manifestations and Transmission of COVID-19: Recommendations for Prevention.” The Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2020.

  4. Emparan, et al. “COVID-19 and the eye: how much do we really know? A best evidence review.” Arq. Bras. Oftalmol, 2020.

  5. "How Coronavirus Spreads." U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2020.

  6. Hu, K. “Ophthalmic Manifestations Of Coronavirus (COVID-19).” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2020.

  7. Sun, et al. “Role of the Eye in Transmitting Human Coronavirus: What We Know and What We Do Not Know.” Frontiers in Public Health, Frontiers Media, 2020.

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