Vice President Mike Pence’s red right eye distracted some viewers during the Vice President debate on October 8th. Now people are wondering if the pink eye is a COVID-19 symptom as Pence was close to President Trump, who revealed he tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
We obviously don’t know exactly what Pence’s eye situation is like, and both he and his wife Karen took a negative COVID-19 test last week. But it is true that pink eyes (conjunctivitis) can be a COVID-19 symptom, SELF stated previously. New research suggests that conjunctivitis can develop in children with the coronavirus and, in some cases, can be the only noticeable symptom of COVID-1
In a small study of 38 people with COVID-19 in China that was published back in March, around a third of those patients had eye symptoms, including conjunctivitis. However, recent research suggests that pink eyes are actually a fairly rare symptom of COVID-19.
Conjunctivitis occurs in approximately 1.1% of all COVID-19 cases, as from one in the Journal of Medical Virology in May. In this study, which analyzed data from 1,167 participants in three previous studies, the pink eye was more common in severe coronavirus cases than in milder cases. It occurred in 3% of severe cases, compared with just 0.7% of mild cases, the authors say.
Eye redness isn’t the only symptom of pink eyes, although it can be the most noticeable to others. Conjunctivitis also causes itching, tearing, and a grainy feeling in the eye, says the Mayo Clinic. The condition can also cause an eye discharge, which can form a crust overnight, making it difficult for the eyes to open in the morning.
Other causes of eye redness that are particularly common these days are allergies, problems with contact lenses, overuse of screens, and dry eye, as SELF explained earlier. Yes, pink eyes can in rare cases be a COVID-19 symptom. Many other conditions can also cause the classic signs of pink eyes. Hopefully, Pence just needed a few refreshing eye drops to clear things up.