Covid-19 and Pink Eye

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By Elspeth Mizner

A new sub variant of Covid-19 is making its ways across the globe and here in the United States, it’s called Arcturus and health experts said people should be more concerned with a new symptom than the new variant.

Epidemiologist and Erie News Now Contributor Dr. Becky Dawson explained, “It’s not causing death, severe hospitalization and you might know you have it because more people with this specific sub-variant are getting pink eye.”

Medical professionals said conjunctivitis or pink eye can be caused by bacterial or viral infections, not just Covid-19. “There are lots of causing to pink eye, so everything from Zika virus to a sub-variant of Omicron to bacteria or other lesser known viruses can cause those conjunctivitis, itchy eyes, pink eyes”, said Dr. Dawson.

Meantime, Dr. Graham Snyder, the Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Hospital Epidemiology at UPMC said more research needs done to see if this could become a new common symptom to keep an eye out for.

“This isn’t the first time that conjunctivitis has been described with the Sars-19 virus that causes Covid-19, so we have a little bit more to learn about whether this is a common symptom or whether this happens sometimes or a symptoms that isn’t associated with this variant at all”, said Dr. Snyder.

We are in the midst of allergy season so how do you know if your red, watery, itchy eyes are symptom of Covid-10 or allergies? Dr. Dawson said there’s a few other symptoms to be aware of. “If you have high fever and the goopy pink eyes, more than likely it’s Omicron and the virus is moving through our body very quickly, so you might get sick but it will get over quickly”, said Dr. Dawson.

Symptoms with Covid vary from person to person which is why doctor stress the importance of testing. “Covid -19 can present with an array of differently symptoms, some people can be cough and a runny nose, some people it’s the runny nose or sore throat, conjunctivitis has always been a little part of the mix and if you think you have a respiratory viral infection or something that could be a respiratory viral infection, it’s important to get tested for Covid”, said Dr. Graham.

Doctors also stress the importance of hand washing if you have pink eye to prevent the spread of germs.


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