SARS-CoV-2 was isolated in the ocular secretion of a 65-year-old woman, travelling from Wuhan, China, to Italy on 23 January 2020 and admitted on 29 January 2020, one day after symptom onset. She presented with nonproductive cough, sore throat, coryza, and bilateral conjunctivitis. She had no fever until day 4, when fever (38 °C), nausea, and vomiting began. Infection with SARS-CoV-2 was confirmed by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay on sputum samples followed by viral M gene sequencing.
Human-to-human transmission occurs mainly through respiratory droplets, but other routes are under investigation, because SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in several body fluids. So far, few data are available on ocular samples from patients with COVID-19, although conjunctivitis has been occasionally reported among COVID-19 symptoms, similar to infections caused by other human coronaviruses.
During the SARS epidemic, eye exposure to infectious fluids was associated with an increased risk for SARS-CoV transmission to health care workers.