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SARS: a timely reminder
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  • Published on:
    • Seng Chee Loon, Ophthalmologist Department of Ophthalmology, National University Health System, Singapore
    • Other Contributors:
      • Victor Koh, Ophthalmologist
      • Katherine Lun, Ophthalmologist

    It has been seventeen years since the emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS -CoV)1 and in 2004, we reported the presence of SARS-CoV in human tears and highlighted the possibility of human transmission through tears2.

    A new strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has emerged recently in China.3 A recent report highlighted the possibility of transmission through tears.4 This thus serves as a timely reminder for ophthalmologists and healthcare professionals to take necessary precautions in the clinic. Furthermore, asymptomatic patients are potentially infective.3

    As ophthalmologists, we sit eye-to-eye with our patients and this close proximity puts us at high risk of being exposed to such infections. When measuring intraocular pressure under topical anaesthesia, our fingers are in contact with the periocular skin or fluorescein-stained tears and it is conceivable that poor hand hygiene increases risk of disease transmission. The tips of reusable bottles of anaesthesia may also come into contact with tear fluid or eyelashes of patients at risk. Also, the use of Schirmer’s test for dry eyes or research purposes, might be sources of infection if the tear samples are not stored properly. It is thus important to ensure good hand hygiene, to wear surgical masks, and if handling infected patients, to don personal protective equipment (PPE) and goggles. It is also important to ensure proper disinfection of reusable equipment (such as tonometer tips). Alternat...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.