This Strange Pain Could Be the First Sign You Have COVID, Study Says

Experts are warning people to look out for any soreness in this body part.

The coronavirus can affect many different parts of your body—and its symptoms are wide-ranging, from the common fever to the more unusual rashes on your feet. We're still learning about new ways the virus can wreak havoc, even though it's been nearly a year since the pandemic started. In fact, new research has pinpointed sore eyes as a potential first sign that you have COVID. For more on this discovery, keep reading, and for other signs you may not recognize, This Strange Symptom May Be the Earliest Sign You Have COVID, Study Says.

A study published in the BMJ Open Ophthalmology journal on Nov. 30 found that sore eyes may be the "most significant ocular symptom" associated with coronavirus patients. Researchers from the Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) surveyed 83 COVID patients and found that 81 percent reported eye issues within two weeks of other coronavirus symptoms.

Eye issues in relation to COVID is not necessarily news, as the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) marks conjunctivitis (pink eye) as a known virus symptom. However, researchers for the new study want the label "conjunctivitis" changed, as the pink eye symptoms for coronavirus may not present in the typical way people expect.

"Conjunctivitis has been reported in people suffering from COVID-19. However, many ocular symptoms are associated with the term 'conjunctivitis' which may be misleading," the study states.

Researchers found that the three most common ocular symptoms experienced by coronavirus patients were photophobia (18 percent), sore eyes (16 percent), and itchy eyes (17 percent).

The reason why researchers point specifically to sore eyes is because this symptom had the highest distinction of frequency between COVID patients and those without the virus. Only 5 percent of participants reported sore eyes before experiencing coronavirus symptoms, compared to 16 percent who reported sore eyes during their illness.

"While it is important that ocular symptoms are included in the list of possible COVID-19 symptoms, we argue that sore eyes should replace 'conjunctivitis,' as it is important to differentiate from symptoms of other types of infections, such as bacterial infections, which manifest as mucous discharge or gritty eyes," lead study author Shahina Pardhan, PhD, director of the Vision and Eye Research Institute at ARU, said in a statement. "This study is important because it helps us understand more about how COVID-19 can infect the conjunctiva and how this then allows the virus to spread through the body."

Sore eyes, itchy eyes, and photophobia were not the only ocular symptoms researchers compared in patients before and during COVID, however. Read on for more eye issues that could be coronavirus signs, and for more on the spread of COVID, This Is Where You're Most Likely to Get COVID Right Now, White House Says.

1
Watery eyes

A middle-aged woman wearing a white blouse and jacket takes off her glasses to rub her eyes.
iStock

Patients experiencing this before COVID: 7 percent

Patients experiencing this during COVID: 12 percent

And for more subtle coronavirus symptoms, These 4 Easy-To-Miss Symptoms Could Mean You Have COVID, Experts Say.

2
Mucous discharge

Tired student learning at home. She is rubbing her eyes.
iStock

Patients experiencing this before COVID: 2 percent

Patients experiencing this during COVID: 4 percent

And if you're worried about the spread of coronavirus, Dr. Fauci Says This One Thing Could Spread COVID More Than Anything Yet.

3
Gritty eyes

Mature man rubbing his eyes with tiredness
Shutterstock

Patients experiencing this before COVID: 4 percent

Patients experiencing this during COVID: 5 percent

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4
Foreign body sensation

Young man doing home eye exam in the bathroom
iStock

Patients experiencing this before COVID: 2 percent

Patients experiencing this during COVID: 5 percent

And for more on eye health, If You're Using This OTC Medication Daily, See a Doctor.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
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