Scientists say the novel Coronavirus can enter the body through the eyes, after research found that the eyes contain a protein used by the disease scientifically called SARS-CoV-2 to bind to cells.
The latest discovery is coming from a team of researchers from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine.
According to the team of scientists, led by Lingli Zhou of the Department of Ophthalmology, COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 latches onto ACE-2 receptors in the eyes, as these receptors are known as the ‘gateway’ into cells inside the body.
The report which was released on Monday said the ACE-2 receptors are found in the respiratory tract and the lungs, which is where the virus first infiltrates cells, as well as other organs and the Johns Hopkins scientists have now found the eyes produce ACE-2, making them a target for the virus.
Also, the study suggests that 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 explaining why some Coronavirus patients have suffered conjunctivitis which is the inflammation of the eye.
The scientists also revealed that tears may serve as a spread of infection adding that they analysed ten human post-mortem eyes from people who did not die of COVID-19 for the expression of ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2).
‘Together, these results indicate that ocular surface cells including conjunctiva are susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2, and could, therefore, serve as a portal of entry as well as a reservoir for person-to-person transmission of this virus,” the scientists added.