Coronavirus: Tear Fluid Transmission?

Coronavirus: Tear Fluid Transmission?

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Transmission of the coronavirus by tear fluid is unlikely

Many people may be aware that the coronavirus can be transmitted by coughing or sneezing. So far, however, it has been unclear whether the virus can also be transmitted through tears. A new investigation looked at this issue and concluded that it is unlikely that infected people would eject the virus through their tears.

The latest study by the National University Hospital in Singapore found that tears are unlikely to transmit the coronavirus. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Ophthalmology".

Coughing and sneezing transmit coronavirus

Researchers are certain that the coronavirus spreads through mucus and droplets, which are expelled by coughing or sneezing. Until now it was unclear whether the virus spreads through other body fluids (e.g. tears).

Results apply to people without conjunctivitis

The current study shows that infected patients are unlikely to expel the virus through their tears. However, there is an important caveat here: none of the patients in the study suffered from conjunctivitis, which is very rare in affected people.

The risk of virus transmission through tear fluid is low

The researchers conclude that their results, combined with the low incidence of conjunctivitis in infected patients, indicate that the risk of virus transmission through tear fluid is low.

Where did the evaluated tear fluid come from?

To carry out the study, the researchers collected tear samples from 17 patients with COVID-19. This happened from the time of the first symptoms until they recovered about twenty days later. The virus could not be detected by various methods during the entire two-week course of the disease.

Throat and nose samples showed different results

During the same period, samples were taken from the back of the nose and throat. While the tears of the participants were free from the virus, the nose and throat were swarming with COVID-19 pathogens.

More research is needed

The researchers hope that the results of the study will help to initiate further investigations to prevent virus transmission through more important ways, such as droplets and fecal-oral spread.

Protect your eyes, hands and mouth!

Despite the results of the study, people need to understand that protection of the eyes, hands, and mouth can slow the spread of respiratory viruses such as the coronavirus. This is because if a sick person coughs or speaks, virus particles can get into another person's face from their mouth or nose. You are most likely to inhale these droplets through your mouth or nose, but they can also enter through the eyes. It is also possible to become infected if you touch something on which the virus is present (for example a doorknob) and then touch your eyes. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Ivan Seah Yu Jun, MBBS, Danielle E. Anderson, PhD, Adrian Eng Zheng Kang, BSc, Lin-Fa Wang, PhD, Pooja Rao, MBBS et al .: Assessing Viral Shedding and Infectivity of Tears in Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID- 19) Patients, in Ophthalmology (Published Mar 21, 2020), Ophthalmology

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