Can Omicron Cause Itchy Eyes?

There have been some peculiar symptoms, such as COVID toe and rashes, associated with COVID-19 ever since the epidemic started. However, the Omicron version of the virus is distinct from earlier strains, and as a result, there is another peculiar symptom to keep a watch out for: irritated eyes.

People who use Omicron have reportedly reported having irritated eyes. However, a lot of things that aren’t actually symptoms of the virus have been linked to it. Can Omicron lead to itchy eyes, then? What you should know is as follows.

What signs and symptoms does Omicron have first?

The following symptoms are listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as COVID-19 symptoms. However, it’s important to remember that the list hasn’t been updated since February 2021, when the Delta version was the virus’s most prevalent strain:

  • Cold or fever
  • Cough
  • Respiratory issues or shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Body or muscle aches
  • Headache
  • New changes in flavour or odour
  • Unwell throat
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Nausea or diarrhoea
  • Diarrhea

Omicron symptoms are a little bit different than they were with previous versions, according to a report from mid-December. According to an analysis of data from 43 cases of COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variation, these symptoms were present in the majority of patients:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose

Does Omicron have itching eyes as a symptom?

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is still a novel strain; the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized it as a variant of concern on November 26, 2021. Due to this, little is known about how this variation affects people and the symptoms it produces.

According to certain study, some persons may have had conjunctivitis, sometimes known as pink eye, as a result of prior COVID-19 strains. If you are unfamiliar with pink eye, it is an infection of the conjunctiva, a transparent membrane that borders your eyelid and covers the white portion of your eye. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it may cause symptoms such eye redness, itching, tears, and discharge.)

In light of this, scientists say it’s highly plausible that Omicron is also contributing to some people’s itchy eyes. According to infectious disease specialist Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, “many respiratory viruses can also affect the conjunctiva of the eye.”

The Ohio State University College of Optometry’s Advanced Ocular Care Service chief, Tatevik Movsisyan, O.D., notes that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, “seems to damage several systems.”

So it seems logical, according to Dr. Movsisyan, that Omicron could affect the eyes and induce symptoms like redness, irritation, and itching. The body’s reaction to any infection is inflammation, which can result in eye redness and discomfort, according to the expert.

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How common is Omicron’s itching eyes?

Right now, it’s unclear. Pink eye has never previously been a typical COVID-19 symptom. For instance, one study that examined the symptoms of 1,000 COVID-19 patients and was published in The New England Journal of Medicine discovered that less than 1% of them had pink eye. Whether it is more or less frequent with Omicron is unknown, but according to Dr. Movsisyan, “as far as we know right now, this is not common.”

What should you do if your eyes start to scratch?

According to Dr. Adalja, it is more likely that something other than COVID-19 is to blame if you only experience itchy eyes and no other symptoms. According to him, COVID-related itchy eyes are “unlikely to occur in isolation.”

But it’s worth getting a COVID-19 test to attempt to figure out what’s going on if you also happen to have a cough, congestion, and/or runny nose. And if you test positive, Dr. Adalja advises that you can presume you have the Omicron version of the virus, which, according to the CDC, is currently responsible for 99.5% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States.

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How to deal with Omicron-related itching eyes?

Initially, try not to rub your eyes. According to Grayson Armstrong, M.D., M.P.H., director of ophthalmology emergency service at Mass Eye and Ear, “it can make the itching worse and potentially transfer the infection to other individuals if it’s in your tears.”

Dr. Vatinee Bunya, an ophthalmologist at Penn Medicine, advises utilizing over-the-counter artificial tears to calm your sore eyes. (She advises putting them in the refrigerator before using them to add additional cooling.)

Use over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops like Zaditor or Pataday as a last resort. According to Dr. Armstrong, “They stop itching—like it’s Benadryl for your eyes.”

According to Dr. Armstrong, applying a cool compress to your closed eyes may also ease your discomfort. That can be really beneficial since it reduces inflammation, he says.

Dr. Bunya advises routinely washing your hands if you must be around people in order to try to stop the virus from spreading to others. Additionally, she advises against sharing pillowcases, face towels, or hand towels.

Just be aware that it will pass eventually. After the virus has subsided, it should stop, according to Dr. Movsisyan. But if you’ve recovered from COVID-19 and are still having eye itching, Dr. Movsisyan advises visiting an ophthalmologist to see if there’s anything else that might be going on.

Also Read ABout Mild vs. Severe Coronavirus Symptoms