During the 2020 vice presidential debate on October 7, Senator Kamala Harris faced off against Vice President Mike Pence. While viewers were trying to focus on the candidates’ answers to moderator Susan Page’s questions, some expressed concern on Twitter for Pence’s red left eye.
“What’s wrong with Pence’s eye? Anyone else seeing this? You know, pink eye is a sign of Covid-19,” one user tweeted.
Pence, 61, has not tested positive for coronavirus, though several White House staff members have, including President Donald Trump.
Twitter users wondered if Pence was showing signs of coronavirus or a different type of infection. Other people asked if Pence was punched in the face and compared him to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator character after he was shot in the eye.
Actor Josh Gad tweeted, “Look, I don’t like Pence either but I don’t think it was necessary for Trump to hit him in the eye before the debate.” Author Saeed Jones tweeted, “That red eye got Pence looking like an albino squirrel. #VPDebate.”
Before the first hour of the debate was over, a new Twitter account popped up called “Pence’s Bloodshot Eye.” The account tweeted, “F***. Who has some Visine?”
Pink Eye Is a Symptom of COVID-19
Symptoms of pink eye include pink or red in the white of the eye or eyes, swelling of the conjunctiva (the thin layer that lines the white part of the eye and inside the eyelid), increased tear production, itching, irritation, burning and crusting around the eyelids, according to the CDC.
“Some COVID-19 patients have ocular symptoms, and maybe novel coronaviruses are present in the conjunctival secretions of patients with COVID-19,” said researcher Dr. Liang Liang of the ophthalmology department at China Three Gorges University in Yichang, as reported by HealthDay News.
“The conjunctiva is a thin, transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner eyelid and covers part of the white of the eye,” WebMD reported. “Liang said the coronavirus may invade it in patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. That means the virus can be spread if someone rubs an infected eye and then touches someone else — or during an eye examination, the study authors suggested.”
There Are 3 Different Types of Pink Eye
While Pence might just have a minor irritation in his eye, it could also be bacterial conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis or viral conjunctivitis, according to the CDC.
With allergic conjunctivitis, both eyes are usually infected. In addition to itching, swelling and tearing, it’s usually accompanied by other allergy symptoms such as sneezing, a scratchy throat or asthma.
Bacterial conjunctivitis causes a discharge from the eye, which can sometimes cause the eyelids to stick together. According to the CDC, this “sometimes occurs with an ear infection.”
When a person suffers from viral conjunctivitis, it typically starts in one eye and then can spread to the other within a few days. Like bacterial conjunctivitis, there is a discharge emitted from the eye, but it’s usually more watery and less thick, according to the CDC.