Scientists have confirmed the coronavirus can enter the body through the eyes as they contain a protein used by the infection to bind to cells, according to reports.
Daily Mail UK reports that coronavirus hasps onto ACE-2 receptors, known as the ‘gateway’ into cells inside body. These receptors are found in the respiratory tract and the lungs, which is where they virus first infiltrates cells, as well as other organs.
A team led by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the United States have now found the eyes produce ACE-2, making them a target for the virus.
It means if droplets from an infected person’s sneeze or cough were to land on the surface of the eye, the virus could begin infiltrating cells there.
It may explain why some patients have suffered conjunctivitis – an inflammation of the eye which causes it to become red and infected.
They analysed 10 human post-mortem eyes from people who did not die of COVID-19 for the expression of ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2).
It’s suggested that someone with more ACE-2 receptors may be more susceptible to a large viral load – first infectious dose of a virus – entering their bloodstream.
This highlights the importance of safety practices including face masks and ocular contact precautions in preventing the spread of COVID-19 disease.
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