SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Coronavirus cases worldwide continue to climb as the pandemic grows, with more than 800,000 cases reported around the world.

While the main symptoms of the virus remain unchanged – fever, dry cough, shortness of breath – doctors are continuing to identify new symptoms linked to COVID-19.

Last week, officials said a loss of smell or taste might be an early sign of infection, with medical experts citing reports from several countries including South Korea, China, and Italy, where the virus has hit hardest.

Now officials are saying pink eye can be added to the list of possible symptoms.

Conjunctivitis, commonly referred to as pink eye, can be a rare warning sign of the virus, according to the American Academy of Opthalmology (AAO).

Pink eye is an irritation of the eye that causes redness, swelling, and sometimes discharge.

Doctors noted that conjunctivitis is rare, appearing to impact about 1 to 3% of those diagnosed with coronavirus.

According to the AAO, pink eye in connection with coronavirus appears to come from “aerosol contact with the conjunctiva,” which is the mucous membrane that covers the eye – or respiratory droplets.

Doctors said these eye secretions may transmit the virus.

The AAO said now may be a good time for contact lens wearers to switch to eyeglasses amid the pandemic.

According to the CDC, although the virus is mainly spread through respiratory droplets via a cough or sneeze or by touching a contaminated surface or object then touching your face, it can also spread through the eyes.

Dr. Sonal Tuli, a spokesperson for AAO, advised contact lens wearers to consider wearing glasses more often if you tend to touch your eyes often when your contact lenses are in.

“Substituting glasses for lenses can decrease irritation and force you to pause before touching your eyes,” Dr. Tuli said.

Wearing glasses may also help add a layer of protection from respiratory droplets of an infected person.

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