There is low risk of spreading the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 through tears. It’s better to worry about the droplets and mucus expelled by coughing or sneezing. Those are more likely to spread the virus than through the bodily fluid of tears.
The findings were by researchers from the National University Hospital in Singapore. Their study was published online in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Unlikely Transmission Through Tears
The researchers concluded in their study that it is unlikely that patients infected with COVID-19 are shedding the coronavirus through their tears. One important caveat was that none of the patients in the study had conjunctivitis (pink eye). However, only 1 percent to 3 percent of infected patients developed pink eye. In all, it is unlikely to contract COVID-19 through the tears of an infected person.
Samples from Nose and Throat
The study consisted of 17 patients with COVID-19. They were observed from the time they showed symptoms until they recovered about 20 days later. Samples from the back of the nose and throat were also taken from the patients. The researchers used viral culture or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect the virus in the tears of the patients over the 20 days. Neither method detected the virus.
Teeming With COVID-19
The researchers did find, however, that the nose and throat were teeming with COVID-19. Findings from this study can help researchers develop methods to prevent the spreading of the virus through the main modes of transmission such as droplets and fecal-oral spread.
Beware of Touching Your Face
People are aware that touching your mouth or nose can infect you with viruses. However, viruses can also infect you by entering the eyes. This is especially true when an infected person sneezes and releases droplets into the air that can enter your mouth, nose and eyes. Touching an infected surface and then touching your eyes, nose and mouths can also introduce the virus into your body.
During this time as COVID-19 is spreading globally, it is important to beware of your surroundings and practice good hygiene like washing your hands often and thoroughly.