Coronavirus may not spread through tears, says new research

The authors wrote that the findings, coupled with the low incidence of pink eye among infected patients, suggest that the risk of virus transmission through tears is low.

Published: 26th March 2020 12:13 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th March 2020 12:13 PM   |  A+A-

coronavirus, Tirupati

For representational purposes (Photo | Madhav K, EPS)


SINGAPORE: to some reports, researchers now claim that new coronavirus doesnt spread via tears and it is unlikely that infected patients are shedding virus through eye fluid.

While researchers are certain that coronavirus spreads through mucus and droplets expelled by coughing or sneezing, it is unclear if the virus is spread through other bodily fluids, such as tears, said the study published in the journal Ophthalmology.

There is one important caveat, though.

None of the patients in the study had conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. However, health officials believe pink eye develops in just one per cent to three per cent of people with coronavirus.


For the findings, researchers at National University Hospital in Singapore collected tear samples from 17 patients with COVID-19 from the time they showed symptoms until they recovered about 20 days later.

Neither viral culture nor reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) detected the virus in their tears throughout the two-week course of the disease, the researchers said.

The study researcher Ivan Seah also took samples from the back of the nose and throat during the same time period.

The findings showed that when a sick person coughs or talks, virus particles can spray from their mouth or nose into another person's face.

You're most likely to inhale these droplets through your mouth or nose, but they can also enter through your eyes, according to the research.

The study also revealed that you can also become infected by touching something that has the virus on it -- like a table or doorknob -- and then touching your eyes.

While the patients' tears were clear of virus, their noses and throats were teeming with COVID-19, the researchers said.

The authors wrote that the findings, coupled with the low incidence of pink eye among infected patients, suggest that the risk of virus transmission through tears is low.

The researchers hope their work helps to guide more research into preventing virus transmission through more significant routes, such as droplets and fecal-oral spread.

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