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If You Spot This On Your Eye, You May Have COVID, Says New Study

Eye nodules may be a sign you have coronavirus.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

The telltale symptoms of COVID-19 are now well known: shortness of breath, fever, digestive issues, etc, but now a new study in Radiology indicates that if you have nodules on your eye, they may be a sign of coronavirus. "Most commonly, a nodule is a localized elevated area of inflammation," according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Read on to discover how to spot them, and learn about all the ocular signs you may have coronavirus—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus


You May Have Nodules on Your Eye That Indicate COVID, Says New Study

Woman having an eye exam at ophthalmologist's office

The paper notes that COVID-19 has been associated with "ophthalmological abnormalities, such as conjunctivitis"—aka pink eye—"chemosis"—which can resemble a blister—"retinopathy"—when your eye's blood vessels are damaged—"or optic neuritis"—which is when swelling damages the optic nerve." The study said it was the first to "report a series of patients with severe COVID-19 presenting with abnormal MRI findings of the globe."

"We did not think that we would discover any ophthalmological abnormalities, since ophthalmic involvement related to COVID-19 is very rare," Dr. Augustin Lecler, from the University of Paris, told Health. "Rapidly, we found these intriguing nodules of the posterior pole of the globe [the eyeball] which were visible only in the most severe patients: those placed in the prone position [meaning they were lying on their stomachs], intubated on high-flow supplemental oxygen, and sedated." As far as he knew, they "had never been described before."

He could not connect them directly to COVID, but found their appearance hard to ignore.

"This paper reports a series of patients with severe COVID-19 presenting with abnormal MRI findings of the globe," summarized the authors. "Screening of these patients might be suitable to provide appropriate treatment and improve the management of potentially severe ophthalmological manifestations." 

You'd need to get an MRI in order to see them. Keep reading for some of the other ways COVID can manifest itself in your eye:


You May Have Conjunctivitis

male eye with reddened eyelid and cornea, conjunctivitis

Otherwise known as pink eye, conjunctivitis was discovered as a COVID symptom last year, according to one study. "What is interesting in this case, and perhaps very different to how it had been recognized at that specific time, was that the main presentation of the illness was not a respiratory symptom. It was the eye," Carlos Solarte, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Alberta, said in a press release. "There was no fever and no cough, so we were not led to suspect COVID-19 at the beginning," he said. "We didn't know it could present primarily with the eye and not with the lungs."


You May Have Swollen Blood Vessels in Your Eye

Doctor doing an eye exam on his patient.

"COVID-19 might cause eye problems such as enlarged, red blood vessels, swollen eyelids, excessive watering and increased discharge," reports the Mayo Clinic.


You May Have Sensitivity to Light

Sleepless hangover man on bed woke up with headache

"The infection also might cause light sensitivity and irritation. These symptoms are more common in people with severe infections," says the Mayo Clinic.

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When We'd Get Back to Normal


You May Have Sore Eyes

Woman in glasses rubs her eyes, suffering from tired eyes

One study in BMJ Open Ophthalmology found: "In people with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, the three most common new symptoms experienced by participants were photophobia (18%), sore eyes (16%) and itchy eyes (17%). The frequency of sore eyes was significantly higher during COVID-19 state compared with pre-COVID-19 state. Eighty-one percent of participants who had experienced an eye symptom reported to have suffered from it within 2 weeks of other COVID-19 symptoms, and 80% reported they lasted for less than 2  weeks."


What to Do If You Have Eye Problems

Sight of old woman verifying by apparatus

Contact an ophthalmologist if you fear you have a problem with your eye. You're not alone: "Our data agree with the fact that there has been an increase in 'sore eyes' as increasing trending Google search term over the past 10 months," say the researchers of the sore eyes study. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek