Someone with COVID and conjunctivitis

With review and feedback from CEENTA Ophthalmologist Joshua Rheinbolt, MD (Concord)

While the coronavirus is mostly known as a respiratory disease, it can affect other parts of the body, including the eyes. In fact, some coronavirus patients have been reported to have pink eye, or conjunctivitis.

What is conjunctivitis?

The white of the eye (sclera) is covered by a transparent thin membrane called the conjunctiva, which produces mucous to coat and lubricate the surface of the eye. It normally has fine blood vessels within it, which can be seen on close inspection. When the conjunctiva becomes irritated or inflamed, often from allergies, irritation, bacteria or viruses, the blood vessels that supply it enlarge and become much more prominent, and the eye turns red. This condition is called conjunctivitis.

In addition to pink, inflamed eyes, symptoms include a discharge of water, mucous, or pus, itchy, burning eyes, blurred vision, and light sensitivity.

COVID and conjunctivitis

COVID-19 is a viral infection. Therefore, if the virus makes contact with the eye, it can have the same reaction as with other viruses.

Joshua Rheinbolt, MD

COVID-related conjunctivitis is rare in the early stages of a coronavirus infection. However, the more severe a person’s coronavirus symptoms are, the likelier they are to develop pink eye. Also, if they do develop pink eye, it is likely the first symptom they develop.

Like with any pink eye, COVID-related conjunctivitis is highly infectious. Avoid touching your eyes and keep all surfaces as clean as possible.

Please keep in mind that most cases of conjunctivitis are not related to COVID. In fact, your eyes might be pink for non-viral-related issues, such as allergies or irritation, CEENTA Ophthalmologist Joshua Rheinbolt, MD, said.


CEENTA has high health and safety standards to ensure our offices are kept coronavirus-free. Patients who are suspected of having the virus will not be able to keep their CEENTA appointments and will be encouraged to make an appointment with their primary care physician. So, patients with pink eye who have appointments at CEENTA should be coronavirus-free. And if you do have non-COVID pink eye, the doctors at CEENTA will be able to help clear it up and make your eyes healthy.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Would you like an appointment with Dr. Rheinbolt? Call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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