Is Pink Eye a Symptom of COVID-19? Conjunctivitis Can Be a Coronavirus Sign

pink eye coronavirus

Getty A researcher works on a vaccine against the new coronavirus COVID-19 at the Copenhagen's University research lab in Copenhagen, Denmark, on March 23, 2020

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.

Thousands of viewers tweeted during the debate wondering if the pink eye was a symptom of COVID-19, and the answer is yes.

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.

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“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,” HealthDay News 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.”

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Pence’s Red Eye Went Viral on Twitter With Speculation Over Whether It Was COVID-19 Related

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“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.

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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?”

The CDC Has Expanded Their List of The Most Common Coronavirus Symptoms


GettyA person undergoes a finger prick blood sample as part of a coronavirus antibody rapid serological test in San Dimas, California.

While the novel coronavirus continues to be studied by scientists internationally, the CDC has continued to update the list of possible symptoms of COVID-19.

While the severity of an infected person’s symptoms can greatly differ from one person to the next, “the may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.”

The most updated list of symptoms includes the following: Fever or chills, cough, fatigue, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, body aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, congestion, nausea or vomiting, sore throat, and diarrhea.

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