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Is Pink Eye a Symptom of COVID-19?

This information was accurate at the time of publication. Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, some information may have changed since the original publication date.

Should you worry if you or a family member comes down with conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye?

"Patients have asked if their pink eye could be the first symptom of COVID-19," according to Moran Eye Center ophthalmologist Jeff Pettey, MD. "The answer is, without the common symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath, it is highly, highly unlikely."

The American Academy of Ophthalmology notes that while COVID-19 may cause pink eye in rare cases (experts believe it develops in just 1 to 3% of people with the disease), it doesn't appear to be a stand-alone symptom of the virus.

What Should You Do If You Have Pink Eye?

Although it does not indicate coronavirus infection on its own, pink eye is highly contagious. Learn all about the symptoms and precautions needed to stop the spread of conjunctivitis and whether or not you should treat it on your own or call your doctor.

"If your only symptom is pink eye, follow your doctor's advice," Pettey says. "Most pink eye will go away on its own in a week or two." 

So just because someone has pink eye, it doesn't mean they're infected with COVID-19. However, if they are infected, the virus could spread by touching fluid from their eyes, or from objects carrying the fluid.