Ocular manifestations and clinical characteristics of 535 cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a cross-sectional study

Liwen Chen, Chaohua Deng, Xuhui Chen, Xian Zhang, Bo Chen, Huimin Yu, Yuanjun Qin, Ke Xiao, Hong Zhang, Xufang Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate the ocular manifestations and clinical characteristics of COVID-19 patients caused by SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan, China. Methods: A total of 535 COVID-19 patients were recruited at Mobile Cabin Hospital and Tongji Hospital. Information on demographic characteristics, exposure history, ocular symptoms, eye drop medication, eye protections, chronic eye diseases, systemic concomitant symptoms, radiologic findings and SARS-CoV-2 detection in nasopharyngeal swabs by real-time PCR was collected from questionnaires and electronic medical records. Results: Of 535 patients, 27 patients (5.0%) presented with conjunctival congestion and 4 patients had conjunctival congestion as the initial symptom. The average duration of conjunctival congestion was 5.9 ± 4.5 days (mean [SD]). The other ocular symptoms, including increased conjunctival secretion, ocular pain, photophobia, dry eye and tearing, were also found in patients with conjunctival congestion. Notably, hand–eye contact was independently correlated with conjunctival congestion in COVID-19 patients. We also found that some COVID-19 patients had chronic eye diseases, including conjunctivitis (33, 6.2%), xerophthalmia (24, 4.5%) and keratitis (14, 2.6%). Similar to the published studies, the most common clinical symptoms were fever, cough and fatigue. A total of 343 patients (64.1%) had positive SARS-CoV-2 detection in nasopharyngeal swabs. Conclusions: Conjunctival congestion is one of the COVID-19-related ocular symptoms, which could occur as the initial symptoms. Frequent hand–eye contact may be the risk factor for conjunctival congestion in COVID-19 patients. Screening of patients with conjunctival congestion by ophthalmologists is advocated during the outbreak of COVID-19. It is essential to provide eye-care equipment and strengthen education on eye protection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e951-e959
JournalActa Ophthalmologica
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • conjunctival congestion
  • hand-eye contact
  • ocular manifestations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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