Can the coronavirus really affect sufferers' eyes, as Dominic Cummings claimed?

Dominic Cummings arrives at Downing Street earlier this week. Picture by Yui Mok/PA
Alice Jaffe

BRITISH Prime Minister Boris Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings last week claimed he had travelled with his family to Barnard Castle in County Durham "to see if I could drive safely". His explanation was that he had thought his vision might have been affected by coronavirus.

Eye symptoms are recognised as a possible symptom of the disease – conjunctivitis, sticky eyes and red eyes have been reported in around a third of patients according to a small study in Wuhan, China, published in March.

Conjunctivitis is also included as a less common symptom in the World Health Organisation's official list. But could Covid-19 affect vision? Robert MacLaren, a professor of ophthalmology at Oxford University, says: "You would be expected to make a full recovery from the eye problems reported so far, although it may cause temporary difficulties such as blurred vision."

The Royal National Institute Of Blind People says: "There is no evidence of sight loss caused directly by the virus," but noted "research is being carried out into some very rare cases that appear to be secondary to other complications such as blood clots caused by the virus".

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