There is little evidence to link Covid-19 to eyesight problems, the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and Moorfields Eye Hospital have said.
Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings said on Monday that he drove to Barnard Castle with his wife and child in order to test his eyesight before making the drive back home to London.
He was backed up by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who suggested he too had suffered problems with his vision after contracting coronavirus.
Mr Johnson told the daily Downing Street briefing on Monday: “I’m finding I have to wear spectacles for the first time in years, I think because of the effects of this thing.
“So I’m inclined to think that’s very, very plausible, that eyesight can be a problem associated with coronavirus.”
Moorfields Eye Hospital said on Tuesday there was little evidence at the moment of a link and said more data was needed.
At present, there is very little evidence to suggest that Covid-19 can affect eyesight. Cases where Covid-19 is recorded alongside an impact on eyesight are rare, so we cannot establish a direct causal effect. We need more data to be collected on Covid-19-related eye conditions to see if there is an association.
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists also said it was unable to report on the link “due to a lack of evidence”.> A statement said the College “is unable to report on the association of vision impairment, as a result of a patient contracting Covid-19, due to a lack of evidence.> “A direct causal effect can only be established through the reporting of proven cases of Covid-19 patients and their symptoms.”> The College said its scientific journal, Eye, has recently published a collection of research papers looking at Covid-19 patients and eye health.> One of these papers points to potential problems experienced by some patients in intensive care, including corneal infection, inability to close the eyes and the eye surface becoming very dry.> The College said: “We believe that there have been a few cases reported on viral conjunctivitis and a statement was issued on this topic, in association with the College of Optometrists, in March.”> But Robert MacLaren, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Oxford, said coronavirus can affect the eyes in several ways.> “It was reported in approximately one third of patients in Wuhan (China) in a recent study.> “The ocular manifestations in the Wuhan patients included conjunctivitis, conjunctival hyperemia (red eye), chemosis (eye swelling), epiphora (watery eye) and increased secretions (sticky eye).> “Any of the above symptoms may affect vision and affected patients would be advised to drive with caution or not at all if there was significant blurring of vision or double vision.”