How the COVID-19 omicron and delta variants could affect your eyes
As of early January, nearly all new COVID-19 cases in the U.K. and U.S. were caused by the omicron variant.
The World Health Organization labeled omicron a "variant of concern" on November 26, 2021. Since then, omicron has been detected in more than 110 countries.
Like other coronavirus variants, omicron and delta may be able to cause certain eye-related symptoms, but we don't know for sure yet.
Vaccines are less effective against the omicron and delta variants, but they're still your best form of protection.
An eye test may soon be able to help detect cases of long-haul COVID.
The COVID-19 omicron variant was discovered in November 2021, and it didn't take long to spread across most of the world. Whenever it's detected in a new location, it usually takes over delta variant infections and becomes the dominant COVID strain in a matter of weeks.
The CDC estimates that more than 90% of new COVID cases in America are now caused by omicron infections, as of January 1, 2022.
Does the omicron variant affect your eyes?
At this point, it's still too early to know how the newly discovered omicron variant might affect your eyes or vision. And that isn't the only thing we don't know about omicron.
We're still waiting for detailed information about:
How easily omicron spreads.
Exactly how well COVID-19 vaccines protect against omicron.
How severe of an illness it causes compared to other variants.
Early data suggests that the omicron variant could cause a more mild form of COVID-19 than delta and other variants. But that doesn't mean you should let your guard down.
"All variants of COVID-19 … can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people," the World Health Organization notes.
They emphasize that "prevention is always key," no matter how omicron plays out.
Can the delta variant cause eye symptoms?
We don't know for sure — yet. Previous strains of COVID could cause eye-related symptoms, but there isn't enough scientific data available right now to say with certainty that delta does the same.
There have been isolated reports of delta infections causing eye symptoms, including one fully vaccinated Kentuckian who had bloodshot eyes and flu-like symptoms, and a five-year-old in Mississippi who showed signs of conjunctivitis.
Although not nearly as common as symptoms like cough and fever, other strains of the coronavirus were capable of causing:
Red, bloodshot eyes
Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
Sensitivity to ligh