The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War Two. Since its emergence in Asia late last year, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica.
Infection started in December 2019, an outbreak of apparently viral pneumonia of unknown etiology emerged in the city of Wuhan, in the Chinese province of Hubei.
Dr Li Wenliang, MD, a 33 year-old ophthalmologist working in Wuhan, was the first to raise the alarm about the virus in late December. Using the Chinese social media platform Weibo, Li attempted to warn his colleagues about a cluster of SARS-like pneumonia cases. Dramatically, Wuhan Central Hospital confirmed his death on February 7, after a series of conflicting reports about his condition. The American Journal of Ophthalmology wished to posthumously recognize Dr Li for his prescient and heroic post and hoped that lessons from this ongoing crisis could be learnt at all levels, from physicians on the ground to the highest levels of government.
On January 9, 2020, the Chinese health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) officially announced the discovery of a novel coronavirus (first named 2019-nCoV, then officially SARS-CoV-2, which differs from the viruses SARS-CoV, responsible for the SARS outbreak in 2003, and MERS-CoV, responsible for an ongoing outbreak that began in 2012 in the Middle East).
This new virus is the pathogen responsible for this infectious respiratory disease called Covid-19 (COronaVIrus Disease 2019).
After an epidemic outbreak in China in January, during month of February 2020, the epidemic soon evolved worldwide into a pandemic with the outbreaks in South Korea, Japan, and Singapore, and the appearance of new outbreaks in Iran and Europe (Italy, France, Spain). In these countries, we are witnessed a community transmission with no identifiable link with cases imported from China.
In March, the WHO counted almost as many cases inside China as outside of China.
Nowadays, countries are racing to slow the spread of the virus by testing and treating patients, avoiding social interactions, limiting travel, quarantining citizens, and cancelling large gatherings such as sporting events, concerts, and schools.
We are in uncharted territory, and rapid research into this novel virus is allowing us to learn more about it every day. This is why we decided to write this article gathering all up-to-date official and useful information about COVID19 related to eye health.
Also, patients with keratoconus more often wear lenses and glasses. Thus, they have legitimate questions about their visual correction and the risk of infection with covid19. This page aims to provide answers to these questions.