To investigate the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2-associated conjunctivitis among patients presenting with conjunctivitis to ophthalmology clinics in the absence of respiratory symptoms suggesting COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic.
This prospective, observational, cross-sectional study enrolled patients aged 18 years and older who presented with acute conjunctivitis between May 2020 and May 2021. After reviewing demographics, ocular and systemic symptoms, a slit lamp examination was performed. Five samples were collected (conjunctival swab from each eye, nasal swab from each nostril, and a nasopharyngeal swab) in separate tubes for a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test for SARS-CoV-2. Patients were called at 1 and 2 weeks to follow up on their ocular and systemic symptoms and collect information about conjunctival adenovirus test results and COVID-19 test results if performed outside of the study.
A total of 36 patients were enrolled. The most common ocular symptom was redness (35/36, 97%), and 14 patients (39%) had symptoms in both eyes at the time of the presentation. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was not detected in any samples collected during the study visit (95% confidence interval [CI] from 0 to 0.08). None of the study participants were diagnosed with COVID-19 following conjunctivitis during the 2-week follow-up period. We found that 25 patients had a conjunctival adenovirus test done on the day of their study visit, 9 of which reported positive results.
Our data suggest that it may not be valuable to obtain routine testing of SARS-CoV-2 in patients presenting with conjunctivitis in the absence of COVID-19.

© 2022 Karakus et al.