More than 20% of children examined in Wuhan with confirmed Covid-19 showed various ocular manifestations, a new study shows.
In the cross-sectional study, researchers investigated main outcomes for clinical symptoms and duration, ocular symptoms and the need for medication in children, as almost all exiting research involves ocular manifestations in adults. The Wuhan study team, led by Dr Nan Ma from Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science & Technology, examined 216 paediatric patients at the Wuhan Children’s Hospital with Covid-19, confirmed by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus disease 2 nucleic acid tests of upper respiratory tract specimens between January 26 and March 18.
Researchers found fever and cough were the most common symptoms, consistent with observations in adult patients, while 93 children (43.1%) had no systemic or respiratory symptoms. Forty-nine children (22.7%) displayed ocular manifestations, nine of which had ocular complaints as the initial manifestation of Covid-19; 27 presented with conjunctival discharge; 19 with eye rubbing and five with conjunctival congestion.
The study indicated that children with systemic symptoms appeared more likely to develop ocular symptoms. The authors also speculated whether there existed an unsanitary hand-eye contact link to conjunctivitis, however, no conjunctivitis aetiology was determined.
Treatment included observation without treatment (23 patients), antibacterial eye drops, antiviral eye drops and antiallergic eye drops. Except for eight children who had persistent eye rubbing, the other 41 children recovered completely. The median duration of ocular symptoms was 7 (3-10) days.
Authors concluded that although several studies have reported ocular findings in Covid-19 patients, the correlation between ocular symptoms and Covid-19 remain controversial. More research is required to determine whether ocular disease is directly caused by SARS-CoV-2, they said.
The study, Ocular manifestations and clinical characteristics of children with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 in Wuhan, China, was published online in JAMA Ophthalmology.