Itchy eyes? How to tell if Arcturus is a covid strain or an allergy

  • This month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an additional booster vaccine for people at high risk for COVID-19 as doctors and scientists closely monitor the new arcturus strain of Covid, or XBB.1.16.
  • Arcturus strain may have a new symptom – conjunctivitis.
  • Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, Eye and eyelid irritation – often associated with viruses, allergies or bacterial infections.

While many previous strains of Covid-19 had classic symptoms like cough, congestion, body aches and loss of smell, there is a new strain called Arcturus that may have a new symptom — conjunctivitis called pink. the eye

“There are two distinct characteristics of Arcturus,” he says Dr. William Schaffnerinfectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

“First of all, fever is not a prominent feature of Covid, but it is with this strain. Also, the other distinguishing feature is conjunctivitis, or as some call it, pink eye.

Conjunctivitis is an irritation of the eye and eyelids – often associated with viruses, allergies or bacterial infections.

This condition involves the outer layer of the eye called the conjunctiva. When it becomes inflamed, it can tear the eye and lead to blurred vision. It can also give the sensation of itchiness and itching.

“Like other episodes of viral conjunctivitis, it can be troublesome, but possible [result] With torn and blurry vision for about a week or so, it heals, and it heals with no sequelae and no long-term vision loss or any other complications,” Schaffner told Healthline.

Although there are three main categories of conjunctivitis, bacterial, viral and allergic, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out what you have.

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Bacterial conjunctivitis involves a discharge from the eye and often involves the eyelids and a thick or superficial discharge inside the eye. Viruses and allergies are very similar in that they cause obvious tearing and itching of the eye.

Since seasonal allergies have arrived, it can be a bit challenging to tell the difference between viral and allergic conjunctivitis because they can cause similar symptoms.

“The only way to really differentiate viral conjunctivitis from COVID, or allergies, or bacterial conjunctivitis is to be evaluated by an ophthalmologist using special dyes and equipment,” he says. Nicholas Onken, ODAssistant Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry.

“We ask questions like when it started, which eyes are affected, if the patient has other symptoms, exposure to people who have been sick recently and what kind of discharge there is,” he said.

As with many medical conditions, there is overlap between the types and symptoms one may experience, so it is important to see a medical provider. If you are experiencing symptoms of conjunctivitis, it may be helpful to get yourself tested for Covid-19.

There is no scientifically documented link between arcturus and conjunctivitis, but rather anecdotal evidence from practice providers. Around the world, doctors are seeing itchy conjunctivitis, especially in children, who test positive for COVID-19.

Many viruses already cause features of conjunctivitis. For example, one of the most common causes of conjunctivitis is adenovirus. As we know with COVID-19, there are many symptoms associated with this infection, and conjunctivitis associated with the virus may be a common feature.

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Although there isn’t a peer-reviewed scientifically proven link, there are enough cases of conjunctivitis with Covid-19 that it’s highly plausible. The American Academy of Ophthalmology It also indicated that conjunctivitis could be one of the manifestations of Covid-19.

As covid may present with eye symptoms, it is important to note that glasses and contacts have no known benefits or harms for the disease.

“We don’t have enough data to say for sure that glasses help protect against COVID or that wearing contact lenses increases your risk of contracting it,” Onken tells Healthline.

The World Health Organization has designated this new strain as a “Variation under observation” in March and grows faster compared to other cyclic variations. This variant has been identified in more than 30 countries worldwide and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is responsible for approx. 10% Cases in the United States.

Although this current strain accounts for only a small percentage of cases in the US, India sees Arcturus as the primary strain, lending credence to the idea that it could happen in the US as well.

Although Arcturus has a unique symptom of conjunctivitis, the WHO currently classifies its overall risk assessment. Low For this strain. Meaning, there are “no early signals of increasing intensity” with Arcturus.

As the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. has stabilized, hospitals across the country have not seen major improvements in hospitalizations or deaths.

Not everyone with Arcturus develops features of conjunctivitis.

However, those who do can pass on the symptoms of conjunctivitis as the symptoms of eye tearing, itching and occasionally blurred vision all resolve on their own and the disease ends.

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Onken advises, “If we handle glasses or contact lenses without washing our hands, we can accidentally become infected, and stop wearing contact lenses if eye redness, discharge, light sensitivity, itching or pain, or changes in vision occur. If that applies to you, get help from an eye doctor as soon as you can.

Despite the many symptoms of COVID-19, there are still many classic symptoms such as cough, body aches, chills, and loss of taste or smell.

As we are now out of the pandemic phase of COVID-19, it is important to note that the same hygiene techniques are still important to prevent the spread of this virus.

“This virus isn’t going away, it’s going to change, which means we have to keep our vaccines up to date,” Schaffner said.

If you have allergic conjunctivitis, you may notice red, burning, or itchy eyes. Step, you may have a feeling of dirt or discharge in your eye Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

You can treat this symptom of seasonal allergies with eye drops, allergy shots, or prescription medications. To reduce these symptoms, the AAFA recommends washing your hands with soap and water before touching your eyes, keeping pets out of the bedroom, using an air filter to reduce pollen in the home, and wearing sunglasses and a large hat to reduce pollen exposure. While out.

Dr. Rajeev Bahl, emergency medicine physician, Florida College of Emergency Physicians and health writer. You can find him

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