Hugh Grant Said COVID Made His Eyeballs Feel ‘Three Sizes Too Big’: More on the Unusual Symptom

Julie Mazziotta
·3 min read

David M. Benett/Getty Images for Lacoste

Hugh Grant was one of the early sufferers of COVID-19.

The Paddington star, 60, revealed Tuesday that he had the highly contagious virus in February, when it was just beginning to spread worldwide. Grant said he was initially thrown by the symptoms, because the virus wasn’t well-known at the time.

"It started as just a very strange syndrome where I kept breaking into a terrible sweat," he told host Stephen Colbert on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. "It was like a poncho of sweat, embarrassing really. Then my eyeballs felt about three sizes too big and this...a feeling as though an enormous man was sitting on my chest, Harvey Weinstein or someone."

“I thought, I don’t know what this is, and then I was walking down a street one day and I thought, ‘I can’t smell a damn thing,’ and you start to panic,” he continued.

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Grant said that at time, people “were just starting to talk” about losing the sense of smell as a symptom of COVID-19.

“I started sniffing flowers, nothing. And you get more and more desperate. I started sniffing in garbage cans. You know, you want to sniff strangers' armpits because you just can't smell anything,” he said.

"I eventually went home and I sprayed my wife's Chanel No. 5 directly into my face. Couldn't smell a thing, but I did go blind,” he joked.

While the loss of scent, fever and chest pressure, like Grant describes, are now well-known symptoms of COVID-19, eyeball pressure is one of the many signs that aren’t as discussed, and may not hit everyone who contracts the virus.

The Mayo Clinic lists “eye problems” as one of the more unusual symptoms of COVID-19. That term covers several eye conditions that could crop up with the infection, including “enlarged, red blood vessels, swollen eyelids, excessive watering and increased discharge.”

And in April, The New York Times looked at health-related Google searches that had increased as COVID-19 cases rose. Searches for “my eyes hurt,” the symptom Grant describes, had gone up significantly in part of the U.S. with the most cases of COVID-19 at the time: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana and Michigan.

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"This is a first but critical step as we continue our work to deliver a safe and effective vaccine," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said

Grant said that he and his wife, television producer Anna Eberstein, both had COVID-19 and have since confirmed that they have antibodies.

"I've had an antibody test, only a month ago,” he said. “I’m rather proud of them.”

The Love, Actually star said he’s quarantining at home in London with Eberstein and their two daughters, along with his 8-year-old son with his former partner Tinglan Hong. As London enters a second lockdown, “it’s been all about Barbies,” Grant said.

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