The American American Academy of Opthalmology is sharing with eye care professionals important information regarding the new coronavirus, called “2019-nCoV,” or simply the “Wuhan coronavirus.”

It is essential that all of us who work in this profession are aware of the risks associated with this outbreak to guarantee our ability to care for our patients and, above all, avoid risks both to ourselves and to those around us.

Topics covered in this article:

Coronavirus and vision, what you need to know

Reports, unofficial and scientifically proven, suggest that the virus can cause conjunctivitis and possibly spread by aerosol-like contact via the conjunctiva.

Much attention to those patients with conjunctivitis, who also have symptoms of respiratory problems and who have traveled recently abroad or lived with people who have been, especially in China, Italy or other countries where the virus is present, since they could be infected by the 2019-nCoV coronavirus.

The Academy and the health services recommend that health professionals use protection in the form of mask to protect the mouth, nose and eyes when dealing with potentially 2019-nCoV-infected patients.

More information: Conjunctivitis or red eye: explanation, precautions and treatment

Background on coronavirus

The 2019-nCoV virus causes serious respiratory infections, such as pneumonia. Even if this virus doesn’t seem so dangerous at the mortality level, such as the SARS or MERS coronavirus, although it should not be overlooked that a significant number of deaths have already occurred, so pay close attention.

Be vigilant as there are reports of new infections around the world, including cases of people who, in principle, have not had a direct relationship with the affected areas.

Infected patients often present with respiratory problems, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, and conjunctivitis. Serious complications include pneumonia. Symptoms can appear within 2 to 14 days after exposure.

As a report published in The Lancet suggests, patients could be infectious to others, even before they experience symptoms of the infection.

The virus appears to be spreading through splashes of saliva. Contagion could also occur if people touches an object with the virus on it and then touches your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Coronavirus, what to do in case of suspicion

When in doubt, it is recommended that you evaluate your patients for the following factors to identify possible exposure to the 2019-nCoV coronavirus:

  • Does your patient have conjunctivitis?
  • Does your patient also have symptoms of respiratory problems?
  • Has your patient or someone in your family recently traveled abroad?

If you have a patient who meets these criteria, immediately notify the local or state health agency in charge of research on the 2019-nCoV coronavirus, so that they can take over.

Helpful Resources on 2019-nCoV

Source: Alert: Important coronavirus context for ophthalmologists

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