COVID-19 and the eye: how much do we really know? A best evidence review
ABSTRACT To identify and classify available information regarding COVID-19 and eye care according to the level of evidence, within four main topics of interest: evidence of the virus in tears and the ocular surface, infection via the conjunctival route, ocular manifestations, and best practice recommendations. A structured review was conducted in PubMed, ScienceDirect, LILACS, SciELO, the Cochrane Library and Google Scholar on COVID-19 and ophthalmology. The Oxford Centre for Evidence Based Medicine 2011 Levels of Evidence worksheet was used for quality assessments. 1018 items were identified in the search; 26 records were included in the qualitative synthesis, which encompassed 6 literature reviews, 10 case series or cross-sectional studies, 4 case reports, and 6 intervention descriptions. Seventeen out of 26 records (65%) were categorized as level 5 within the Oxford CBME methodology grading system, the rest were level 4. The evidence generated on COVID-19 and ophthalmology to date is limited, although this is understandable given the circumstances. Both the possible presence of viral particles in tears and conjunctiva, and the potential for conjunctival transmission remain controversial. Ocular manifestations are not frequent and could resemble viral infection of the ocular surface. Most recommendations are based on the strategies implemented by Asian countries during previous coronavirus outbreaks. There is a need for substantive studies evaluating these strategies in the setting of SARS-CoV-2. In the meantime, plans for applying these measures must be implemented with caution, taking into account the context of each individual country, and undergo regular evaluation.