A new study conducted by a team of researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine has found that coronavirus is unable to penetrate the cornea in the eyes.
The discovery is significant as other viruses such as herpes simplex and Zika virus can impact the cornea.
The findings of the study are published in the journal Cell Reports. The researchers, however, mentioned that they are yet to find out whether other tissues in and around the cornea are affected by coronavirus or not.
First author Jonathan J Miner, said, “Our findings do not prove that all corneas are resistant. But every donor cornea we tested was resistant to the novel coronavirus. It’s still possible a subset of people may have corneas that support the growth of the virus, but none of the corneas we studied supported growth of SARS-CoV-2.”
“Some Covid-19 patients get eye symptoms, such as conjunctivitis (pinkeye), but it’s not clear that the viral infection itself causes that; it could be related to secondary inflammation,” a professor at the John F Hardesty Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences was quoted as saying by Hindu Business Line.
“The cornea and conjunctiva are known to have receptors for the novel coronavirus, but in our studies, we found that the virus did not replicate in the cornea,” he added.
The researchers also succeeded in locating some some substances present in corneal tissue that can encourage or check the growth of coronavirus.
The authors wrote, “We may learn those eye coverings are not necessary to protect against infection in the general community, but our studies really are just the beginning. We need larger clinical studies to help us better understand all the potential routes of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, including the eye.”